The New York Times noted civil rights heroes, current movement leaders, labor leaders and Democratic officials addressed a vast crowd that stretched east from the Lincoln Memorial to the knoll of the Washington Monument today.
The New York Times also noted several memorable attendees:
- One person in a hoodie with the phrase “American Justice;”
- Several with signs urging “Support Trayvon’s Law” to repeal stand-your-ground gun measures; and
- “We march because Trayvon Martin has joined Emmett Till in the pantheon of young black martyrs.”
Columnist Jerry L. Barrow was spot on several months ago when he authored, “What Do I tell My Son? “
… as I sit here at my computer more than a year later reading the reactions to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, I am gripped in fear. My soul is laminated in a coat of hopelessness at the thought of my son, who is presently enjoying a vacation 1500 miles away, being engaged on the street by someone who finds him suspicious because of his appearance and kills him.”
However, all the evidence in Till’s death points explicitly to race. And colorblind Americans accepted and failed to condemn his killers accordingly. The circumstances in Martin’s death merely suggest that Martin’s race was likely a factor in Zimmerman’s judgment of him.
From a personal perspective, when I think of Delbert Belton brutal killing by two black teenagers, I respond by asking a similar question, “What do I tell my 83 year old father?” And truth be told, I have not seen Melissa Harris-Perry cry on television for Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old student at East Central University who was shot in the back and killed by three black teenagers while jogging in Duncan. Similarly, I have not heard if NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock tweeted about how the black community failed to raise their children in an abundance of love and proper role models (and that’s not saying they don’t).
So I sit and wonder, what would Dr. Martin Luther King think of today’s era of racism and the 50th anniversary of the Marches in Washington, D.C.? Maybe Dr. King would emphasize Americans seem blinded to matters of color. The racism strewn through every cornerstone of Dr. Martin Luther King’s day is the same racism that lives today. Yeah, the time is different. True the people have changed. But the roots of oppression are from the very same weed.
Delbert Belton, Christopher Lane and Trayvon Martin should have never been killed. But I refuse to March in Washington, D.C. this week simply because someone believes Trayvon Martin is a civil rights hero or martyr. Trayvon Martin was neither. But I will march in Washington for the following reasons:
- The black unemployment rate last year was 14.0 percent, 2.1 times the white unemployment rate (6.6 percent) and higher than the average national unemployment rate of 13.1 percent during the Great Depression, from 1929 to 1939.
- After adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage today — 7.25 — is worth $2.00 less than in 1968, and is nowhere close to a living wage.
- More than a third of non-Hispanic black workers (36 percent) do not earn hourly wages high enough to lift a family of four out of poverty.
- A report by the Violence Policy Center found black males are nine times more likely than white males to be the victims of homicide — 29.50 out of 100,000 black males compared with 3.85 out of 100,000 white males.
- A study found the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.
- The imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion — the single most important predictor of success in the work force — has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.
For the above reasons, I will stand by your side and fight the fight worth fighting, for these reasons are worthy of Dr. Martin’s dream.