Justice Denied: The Killing of Trayvon Martin in Historical Perspective

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Trayvon Martin



In 2003, Hasan Kwame Jeffries joined the faculty at The Ohio State University in the history department and at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. He was recently promoted to associate professor with tenure.

After deliberating for sixteen hours, the jurors in State of Florida v. George Zimmerman informed Seminole Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson that they had reached a verdict.

Zimmerman, a 29-year-old neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, had been charged with second-degree murder for killing African American teenager Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.

Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, had sat through every moment of the three-week trial, but they were not present the evening of July 13, 2013 to hear the verdict. They had left Tallahassee hours earlier. Waiting for the verdict had become unbearable.

On the charge of second-degree murder, the six-woman panel found Zimmerman not guilty. The jury of five whites and one Latina reached the same conclusion on the lesser charge of manslaughter....

There are facts about the night that George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin that will never be known for certain because Martin is not here to tell his side of the story.

But it is possible to know why African Americans and white Americans viewed the situation so differently. The key is the historical context that informed African Americans’ understanding of Martin’s murder and Zimmerman’s acquittal....




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