Campus News

Continuing the Fight

July 16, 2013
Booker Peek
When the Million Hoodies March occurred in New York City on March 21, 2012, George Zimmerman had not yet been charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Photo credit: David Shankbone (own work), CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia

All Americans are winners in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman affair because there was a trial. The celebration that began more than a year ago, when the state of Florida decided to file charges against Zimmerman for killing Martin, should continue. The celebration must focus more on the fact that there was a trial and less on the outcome of that trial.

We must all thank those blacks, whites, and others who had to demonstrate, protest, and find every legal means to fight for a trial for the dead teenager. They achieved for us a victory that would have never occurred many years ago and almost did not happen, even in the 21st century.

Additionally, we honor Trayvon’s memory, in part, by underscoring the importance of protesting the verdict with peaceful demonstrations and by offering our prayers that there will never be any attempts to subject Zimmerman to any bodily harm, however much we may feel that he is guilty. Trayvon’s parents have made it clear that we must not besmirch their son’s memory by shameful and hurtful acts. Their pleas should be respected.

Still, there is pain for the many who have to warn their sons to take extra precaution in public just because they are black, a reality that is all the more sorrowful because we are celebrating as a nation the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln.

Moreover, the injustice is intensified because if we are asked to believe most of George Zimmerman's account of what happened that fateful night—February 26, 2012—then he lied at a most crucial moment. That moment, according to his version, occurred when he was face-to-face with Trayvon for the very first time. Trayvon asked him if he had a problem, and Zimmerman replied that he did not.

The world knows that Zimmerman did have a problem with Trayvon. What we do not know is the reason that Zimmerman did not speak truthfully and tell Trayvon who he was, why he had been following him, etc. Instead, by his own account, he lied to Trayvon as the two stood in the dark and in the rain.

For that reason and many others, it should hardly be surprising that many Americans did not buy all of Zimmerman's account. But he was found not guilty in a trial that, everything considered, was fair. And in any trial, fairness is all that one should expect.

Let's work more aggressively, tenaciously, and astutely than ever before to fix a somewhat broken system and improve our country in ways that honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., show our gratitude to those who led the fight for a trial in the first place, and respect the wishes of Trayvon’s parents.

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