Friday, September 27, 2013

Trayvon Martin's Forebears

Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman... On a suburban library screen, those faces impress two dozen residents of mixed races yesterday with the Mississippi martyrdom of young men 50 years ago.

In a showing and discussion of PBS’ “Eyes on the Prize,” there is a sense of wonder and disbelief at the organized cruelty and mendacity of that time but, for one who lived through it, the pain remains.

News of George Zimmerman, his continuing erratic behavior and wife’s doubts about his innocence, brings up the face of Trayvon Martin, another young man dead before his time in the South.

In Maryland, a University officer bitterly tells honors students that "it is legal to hunt down and kill American children in Florida," resulting in outrage not about what happened there but against the official for saying it.

The election and reelection of Barack Obama reassure America that things have changed. They surely have, but will the second African-American president still have to bear the open and disguised racial hatred that has surrounded the first?

Just yesterday, Arizona’s National Committeeman Bruce Ash confided on Facebook that the President on Obamacare is “shucking and jiving,” echoing Rush Limbaugh who last month called Obama’s Syria policy “Operation Shuck and Jive,” a phrase that dates back to the era when slaves were stereotyped as foot-shuffling simpletons.

The arc of the universe may bend toward justice, as Martin Luther King believed, but it is long indeed.

No comments: