On an August morning in 1955, a 14-year-old Chicago student, visiting relatives in Mississippi, stopped in a small-town grocery store with a group of friends. While there, the visitor from Chicago was said to have whistled at the white woman working behind the counter, a profoundly dangerous thing to do in the world of Jim Crow America.
Within a few days, the woman’s husband and his brother came to the home where the young boy was visiting. They transported him to a barn, beat him, and gouged out one of his eyes only to shoot him through the head and dispose of his body in a river, weighing it down with a 70-pound cotton gin fan.
Days later, his body was found, dragged from the river and returned to his mother in Chicago. She insisted that his body be shown publicly in the casket to demonstrate to the world the brutality and senselessness of the killing. It was a murder that riveted the nation and showcased to the world the horror of the ruthless violence that befalls African-American youth.
That 14-year-old’s name was Emmett Till. Trayvon Martin is the Emmett Till of this generation.
The death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old cheerful high school senior, is a crime so horrifying that it has galvanized, if belatedly, the attention of the entire country.
By now, his story is well known. The young man was walking through a gated community in a suburb of Orlando when a neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, approached him. Zimmerman called police saying that the young man looked suspicious and that he was Black.
The police told Zimmerman not to follow the young man, explaining that they were on their way. Nonetheless, Zimmerman approached Martin. There are 911 calls that carry the young man’s chilling and heartbreaking cries for help, followed by a gunshot.
Zimmerman said he shot the young ...