Trayvon Martin's Father Addresses Congressional Caucus

By Villeneuve, Marina | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), July 25, 2013 | Go to article overview

Trayvon Martin's Father Addresses Congressional Caucus


Villeneuve, Marina, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


WASHINGTON -- Tracy Martin, the father of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, on Wednesday urged Congress to improve the educational and employment opportunities of black American boys and men, who are disproportionately imprisoned and unemployed.

"I always say that Trayvon was my hero," Mr. Martin said. "He saved my life, and not to be there in his time of need is real troublesome." When he was 9, Trayvon Martin pulled his immobilized father from a fire that started in their kitchen, calling 911 and saving his life.

Mr. Martin, who recently started an anti-gun violence foundation with Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said President Barack Obama's impromptu remarks Friday, during which he shared his own experiences with racial stereotypes, "spark[ed] a conversation in every household."

"That conversation is what can we do as parents, what can we do as men, what we can do as fathers, what we can do as mentors, to stop this from happening to your child," Mr. Martin said.

Mr. Martin attended a meeting on the issues facing black boys, youth and men organized by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D- D.C., and Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. Panelists spoke of the need to improve access to early-childhood education and job-training for all young people, and particularly black and Latino males.

Black males are incarcerated at a rate more than nine times higher than white males among prisoners ages 18 to 19, according to 2011 Bureau of Justice figures.

Only 52 percent of black males and 58 percent of Latino males graduate from high school in four years, compared with 78 percent of white, non-Latino males, according to a 2012 report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Earlier this month, in a case that brought wide media and public attention, a Florida jury found self-styled neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the pursuit and shooting in Sanford of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year old. "To have his name slandered and demonized, I think -- as a father -- I think it's real important for my message to the world: We won't let this verdict sum up who Trayvon was," Mr. Martin said.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said that while the U.S. Department of Justice is amid an investigation of Mr. …

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