Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s father, vowed to continue fighting for his son and for other “Black and brown” boys in America during the inaugural hearing of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys July 24.
A 17-year-old unarmed Trayvon Martin was killed after being stalked by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, and shot during a tussle with the 29-year-old.
“We’ve taken that negative energy and we’re trying to turn it into a positive,” Martin said of his son’s death. “A lot of people will tell you that nothing positive can come out of death but I disagree and I disagree wholeheartedly because it is what we can do tomorrow as a nation, as a people, to stop someone else’s child from being killed.”
Later, Martin said he hopes his son’s legacy is a positive turnaround in some of the troubling issues facing American society.
“When I’m dead and gone, I would like to see that Trayvon Martin’s name attached to some type of statute or amendment that says you can’t simply profile our children, shoot them in the heart, kill them, and say that you were defending yourself,” he said, later adding, “With everything I have left in me, we’re going to try to make sure that his name won’t be dragged through the mud, that his legacy will be that Trayvon helped bridge the gap of America.”
The forum was titled “The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature into Strong Men.” It was the first for the caucus formed in March by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).
“In establishing [this Caucus], Representative Danny Davis and I sought to raise to the national level, beginning with Congress, serious issues that we and other members of Congress are grappling with in our districts, along with state and local government officials and especially parents and relatives and the African American community itself,” said Norton during the hearing.
“The issues are spread across the spectrum of the life of Black males in America today – clothed in stereotypes from their years as boys, as youths, and as men. We seek a society that does not define Black men and boys, but allows African-American males the opportunity to define themselves as individuals…Today, Trayvon helps the Caucus bring Black men and boys to center stage.”
In addition to Trayvon’s father, speakers included former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, author and Georgetown University professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, and executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans David J. Johns, each of whom discussed one of three phases of a Black male’s life in the United States today, from childhood through the teenage years to manhood.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) praised her colleagues for the hearing, saying it was an affirmative step toward shining a spotlight on the concerns of Black males.
“Today’s conversation helped elevate the voices and daily experiences millions of African American boys and men around this country,” she said in a statement. “I applaud the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys…for their leadership and vision to make sure we all recognize our responsibility in ensuring Black men and boys in this country are not forgotten, mistreated, and are no longer left behind.”