On Monday, July 15, 2013 after the weekend verdict was announced, some of my criminal justice students were boisterous and happy, saying aloud, “All right! He was innocent!”
Several students were silent…
The killing of Trayvon Martin has become a national tragedy. In addition to the unnecessary and tragic death of a young black teenager, nearly half of our country and most African Americans believe a grave injustice has occurred.
While most in the minority community are resolute in their dislike of the verdict, a majority in the legal community and most white Americans believe George Zimmerman was innocent. All Americans should be concerned that so many people of color believe this case represents injustice and is another example of how little we value the lives of African American men and boys.
America is a better place when her citizens recognize when people hurt and have suffered injustice. Trayvon Martin will remain a symbol and the question in history is this: “What lessons will be learned and what will his death inspire?” If we take a few small steps in the right direction, we can, as a nation, move closer to living up to the proposition framed by John E. E. Dalberg in 1877: “The most certain test by which we judge where a country is free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.”