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The Trayvon Martin in US

An American Tragedy


Emmanuel Harris II and Antonio D. Tillis

The events surrounding the Trayvon Martin murder, trial and acquittal bring to public and private discourse the violent, brutal murders of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. King, while bringing back to memory the racially provoked murders of Black American and Black immigrant men such as Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant and more recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. The name of Trayvon Martin has become trope in the 21st century, which crystallizes US racial politics regarding Blackness, specifically the Black male: a metaphoric symbol of this history of America’s regard for Black bodies, as well as a metonym, a name that has become a contemporary substitute for terrorist attacks targeting Black bodies. The works included here imply that Trayvon Martin, as trope, reverberates in the most conscientious of ‘US’; and, this epic tragedy is one that has plagued ‘US’ since Africans and people of African descent first arrived to the Americas. The essays range from the profoundly personal to the thoroughly investigated, and conclude with the statement from President Barack H. Obama in the epilogue. The Trayvon Martin in US is essential reading for anyone who is involved in race relations or teaches the topic.
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Chapter Sixteen: Disposable Images of Our HipHoprisy: Trayvon Martin Stares at Emmett Till



Disposable Images of Our HipHoprisy: Trayvon Martin Stares at Emmett Till


Willie Reed, who became famous briefly in Mississippi in the mid-twentieth century, died in the summer of 2013. I had never heard of him—or Willie Louis either, for that matter. And I consider myself more than slightly conversant about what Black people used to call the Freedom Struggle and what everyone now calls the Civil Rights Movement. After all, over the past twenty-five years I have watched both series of PBS’s Eyes on the Prize a gazillion times and read a total of ten (!) books on the Movement and many of its characters. I even helped write a couple of Movement coffee-table books, for Ogun’s sake!

No, I never heard of either Willie. Reading his New York Times obituary published July 20, 2013, I discovered that Mr. Reed did something so brave that he could only be a Black man in the Deep South, standing up for what was right. It was such a courageous act that Willie Reed had to die and be replaced by Willie Louis.

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