The case of Trayvon Martin is pointing to the important role that the black community has played – both through news outlets and social media – in keeping his death in the public eye.
Celebrities, politicians, rappers, activists and several prominent black journalists have been crucial in raising awareness of the killing of the unarmed 17-year-old by a neighborhood watch captain.
The effort shows how the black community is adapting to use new technologies and opportunities to bring their concerns before the nation.
PRESIDENT OBAMA (PRESS CONFERENCE)
“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”
President Obama once said that if he “had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.” Now, apparently, the slain teen is just another gun violence statistic.”
When Trayvon Martin was shot, I said he could have been my son. Another way of saying that – Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” he said.
“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store, and that includes me. There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happened to me before I was a senator,” he said.
The president, in the meantime, called for some “soul-searching” following Zimmerman’s acquittal.
“Once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works,” he said. Obama added that he does see race relations in the United States getting better, citing his own daughters’ interactions with their friends.
Obama wondered aloud how to draw positive lessons from the case, saying the country needs to look for ways to bolster African-American boys.
REV. AL SHARPTON (NEWSPAPER)
Rev. Al Sharpton praised President Barack Obama’s comments on the Trayvon Martin case, calling it a “historic statement.” “I thought the president made a very, very historic statement that I think had to be said. I think he said it in a way that will make this country have to deal with the reality of why they’re seeing such dissatisfaction and such real anger in our community.” The liberal pundit, who hosts his own MSNBC show “Politics Nation,” especially delighted in the president making it personal, relating to the incident and acknowledging that he himself could have been Trayvon Martin, the African American teenager killed by Zimmerman.
“It is unprecedented for him to say that on the eve of [the 100-city rally]. It really makes the country understand that we’re not the troublemakers, we’re the trouble breakers. It’s trouble when you’ve got to explain to your children that they are vulnerable and that the laws don’t protect them,” he added. Sharpton, who has helped lead the call for a march in 100 cities in response to the Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict, said that now that the president had made his powerful statement, it was time for the others to put action to his words.
RUSSELL SIMMONS/MUSIC/FASHION MOGUL (WIRE BLOG)
Simmons penned an op-ed this week essentially declaring Zimmerman’s guilt with the hope that a Karmic higher power will punish him no matter what the jury eventually determines. He will soon be judged by a jury of his peers, and that is the best we can do. Whatever decision they make, is a decision that we must live with, whether we like it or not. Whether George Zimmerman is found innocent or guilty by the jury, I am firm believer that all of us live by karmic law, and he will ultimately be punished for the death of Trayvon, no matter what.
MIA FARROW/ACTRESS (TWITTER)
Bottom line: in our hearts we know that if Trayvon had been a blond boy, it is unlikely that Zimmerman would have followed & killed him
REV. JESSE JACKSON
The Rev. Jesse Jackson praised President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin saying they were a step towards healing the country. “There’s a step in the direction of healing. Of course, he has had to suppress much of his feelings because of just the intensity of it all,” said Jackson. “You know, if he had done the saxophone thing like Bill Clinton did, I would consider it inclusion. If he had done it, it would have been considered polarizing. He has had to walk on those egg shells, but I think that the situation now is so intense he felt the need to express and I think it’s good for the healing of the nation.”
OPRAH WINFREY/Media Mogul (SOCIAL MEDIA)
Last week when social media erupted after the not-quilty verdict was announced, Oprah was in Africa touring the Serengeti National Park for what was described as a private excursion. She had no idea the verdict had been announced and tweeted the following:
“Tweethearts, I know you’re going to LOVE #Herlarious with @iamwandasykes tonight. Get ready to LOL for REAL!”
Not suprinsingly, the less-than-perfectly timed tweet didn’t sit well with some of Oprah’s followers. One follower, @therealpeela tweeted Lady O directly, “Man @Oprah just pissed me right the hell off. How dare you tweet about some (expletive) show right now. Yes I’m that pissed.”
Oprah responded the same evening, “@therealpeela sorry didn’t know there was a verdict. In another part of the world no t.v.”
Over a year ago, Oprah Winfrey weighed in on the death of teenager Trayvon Martin expressing her dismay at his killing and the handling of the case. In an interview with Extra, Winfrey said, “It is a tragedy and it is a shame that we’re sitting here 33 days later and there hasn’t been an arrest, or questioning of what actually happened. It’s a tragedy and it is a shame and we all know it.”She identified Zimmerman as the person she would most like to interview. She also commented on the reaction to Martin’s death.
“I saw some people on Twitter saying nothing has changed, the same thing’s going on,” she said. “Lots has changed and you know why? Because black people, white people, brown people, yellow people all over this country and all over the world are saying the same thing… it’s a tragedy and it’s a shame and justice needs to be served.”
JAMIE FOXX/ACTOR (MOVIE PREMIERE)
Jamie Foxx has offered lifetime support to Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Foxx stated that he was “disappointed” that George Zimmerman was found not-quilty for Martin’s murder.
“She’s always been courageous in saying this has never been about race. She said it’s about 17-year-old kids. We have to protect our kids. So I stand with her forever,” he said. “There’s something wrong when a 17-year-old child is on his way home and someone with a gun pursues him and he ends up losing his life.”
Foxx, who is known for rocking shirts with Trayvon’s picture, said he’s glad to see support for Martin’s family in Hollywood.
“It was great to see Bruce Springsteen in Ireland dedicate a song to Trayvon,” he said. “I think that’s what really makes it universal in the fact that we know that there’s race involved, but to see all races coming together and saying that ‘Hey, there’s something wrong.’”
He went on the say that Americans need to find a solution for the gun violence “epidemic” in this country.
LANCE GROSS /ACTOR (TWITTER)
Actor Lance Gross posted his feelings in a letter on Twitter:
Dear George Zimmerman,
For the rest of your life you are now going to feel what it is to be a black man in America.
You will feel people stare at you. Judging you for what you think are unfair reasons. You will lose out on getting jobs for something you feel is outside of your control. You will believe yourself to be an outstanding citizen and wonder why people choose not to see that.
People will cross the street when they see you coming. They will call you hurtful names. It will drive you insane some days that you’ll want to scream at the top of your lungs. But you will have to wake up the next day, put on a firm look and push through life.
I bet you never thought that by shooting a black male you’ll end up inheriting all of his struggles.
Enjoy your “freedom.”
A black male who could have been Trayvon Martin
SPIKE LEE/FILMMAKER (TWITTER)
“Stand your ground, the stuff is rigged and laws are rigged so we end up being the majority population in the prison system,” said Spike Lee.
GABRIELLE UNION/ACTRESS (TWITTER)
Black actress Gabrielle Union has also used Twitter to express her anger: “#TrayvonMartin case has exposed some ppl as monsters…not just Zimmerman but ANY1 who makes excuses 4 a man who kills an unarmed child.”
JASIRI X /INDIE RAPPER (TWITTER)
Artist Jasiri X, an indie rapper from Pittsburgh, went viral with a rap song ending with the words, “the message is only white life is protected in America.”
TERRY MCMILLIAN/”WAITING TO EXHALE “ AUTHOR (TWITTER)
“I am not violent but I sure would like to slap George into next week. Or, maybe 25 years.”
“I would say in the Trayvon Martin case, if it weren’t for the black voices taking to the streets and getting visits from the attorneys and staying involved, that the wider media would not have thought this newsworthy,” says Donald Tibbs, a professor at Drexel University‘s Earle Mack School of Law in Philadelphia and author of “From Black Power to Prison Power.”
DEREDE MCALPIN/VICE PRESIDENT (NEWS BLOG)
The Martin case is a perfect example of the influence of the black community on national media coverage, says Derede McAlpin, vice president of Levick Strategic Communications in Washington. She says it parallels the case of the Jena Six of 2006, in which six black teens were arrested for serious offenses while their non-minority counterparts received different treatment.
“The [Jena Six] case was largely ignored by the US national media. The Town Talk and The Jena Times covered the story from its inception,” says Ms. McAlpin. “But the case didn’t reach a national level until African-American bloggers and [black] media reported on the issue, which resulted in the mobilization of a nationwide network of supporters, civil rights activists, and community groups.”
LEONARD PITTS/SYNDICATED COLUMNIST (NEWSPAPER)
Wake the hell up.
So yes, we need to wake the hell up.
While we were celebrating, others were calculating.
While we were writing nasty rap lyrics, they were writing senators.
While we were organizing Obama victory parties, they were organizing tea parties.
While we were buying DVDs, they were buying candidates.
While we were sending texts, they were building propaganda machinery.
While we were resting on the past, they were seizing the future.
Granted, the preceding casts a wide net. Yes, there are many of us, African Americans and others, who don’t need the admonition, who are already awake, who have always been awake. More power to them.
But there are also many of us still sleeping. So let Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of his killer be a wake-up call. Let it be a spur to stop reacting and start pro-acting.
Let it be a goad to become better informed. Let it be a reminder to organize. Let it be a reason to send a check to the NAACP. Let it be an incentive to join the social-justice ministry at church. Let it be cause to write your congressman. Let it be an impetus to teach and nurture your kids.
Most of all, let it be an alarm clock, ringing in the darkness of a new morning, calling conscience to account. Do not waste this moment. The time for sleeping is done.
A collective gasp swept over the Internet when the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial was announced on Saturday night. George Zimmerman, who fatally shot the 17-year-old, was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter by a jury of six women in Sanford, Florida.
Celebrities took to social media to share their reactions to the not guilty verdict. Many were shocked, most were saddened, and some were simply at a loss for words.
Read some of the reactions from Twitter below:
Diddy: MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO TRAYVON’S FAMILY!!!! GOD BLESS THEM!!!!
Lil Wayne: Tampa was amazing but kame bak to my bus and saw da news…ain’t shit change, and I may never get to see it do so. I pray 4my kids & yours.
Rihanna: This is the saddest news ever!!! #whatsjustice #pray4theMartinFamily
Nicki Minaj: What are your thoughts? @BarackObama We’re allowed to disregard 911 operators, pursue and kill ppl now? But send lauryn hill to jail 4 TAXES … May God console the Martins at this time; as well as every other family that’s gone through this type of injustice.
Missy Elliott: @Timbaland Wow! Smh! Its like Living in the Last Days! #speechless
Tamar Braxton: Going to bed. This has ruined my whole night. #JusticeForTrayvon
Russell Simmons: Prayers for the Martin family. … Only God knows what was on Zimmerman mind but the gun laws and stand your ground laws must change.
Lil’ Kim: #riptrayvonmartin Very sad. I just heard about the verdict. We need justice.
Kelly Rowland: #Disappointed. literally in tears right now, over the way a KILLER was found not guilty!!?KeepingTrayvon’s family in my prayers! In shock!
The Game: I feel for his parents & family…… Lord knows my heart couldn’t hold the amount of pain they’re drowning in. #RIPTrayvonMartin
Ciara: Whenever Some One Has Done Wrong, They Will Have To Face It. No Matter What. God Will Handle It. For There Is No Power Greater Than His.
Lupe Fiasco: Nobody knows what really happened except trayvon and Zimmerman. The justice system relies on reasonable doubt not our emotions. The case should have never been televised as the potential to antagonize US race relations was, in my dumb, opinion too risky & unnecessary
LASTLY……..TRACY MARTIN (FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN)
“God blessed Me & Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put u [sic],” tweeted Tracy Martin. “Thanks to everyone who are with us and who will be with us si [sic] we together can make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Even though I am broken-hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.”