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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 Two:   I Cried: My Personal Sentiments About Trayvon Martin’s Death and the George Zimmerman Trial



I Cried: My Personal Sentiments About Trayvon Martin’s Death and the George Zimmerman Trial


The day after the verdict in the George Zimmerman case was reached, my family and I attended Sunday service at a prominent African American church in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri. In many regards, I went to church that day in search of answers, answers that would help to calm the anger I was feeling, answers that would reverse the sense of hopelessness I felt. I was in search of a balm to heal my wounded soul.

The pastor of the church, the son of a well-known local political leader, attempted to offer words in reference to the preceding day’s verdict. As he brought words, he began openly to weep. I, too, began to weep. I cried from my soul that day. In fact, in my recent memory, there have only been two other times that I have cried so deeply. Both of those times were directly related to the death of a family member. So, why was I hurting so deeply about the outcome of a court case that had nothing to do with me personally or with any of my family members? I believe the young pastor and I cried for similar reasons. As the pastor stood at the lectern weeping, I began to look around the sanctuary at the young African American males in attendance. There was a...

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