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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin

It's tragic that Trayvon Martin was killed. It's worse that the Sanford, Florida police department apparently doesn't care.

This topic isn't academic to me. Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi not long after I was born. The Mississippi part of the Till family had split from the Alabama part prior to the Civil War, so I can't say how Emmett came to share my family name -- but the inference is clear. Some years ago one of my son's African-American acquaintances expressed discomfort at the Till name. I understood why right away.

With that in mind, I am beside myself with anger at the Sanford police, who remind me of Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia police in the 1950s and 1960s. I don't know exactly what happened on February 26, 2012; none of us will, until there is a proper investigation. It seems reasonable to me that George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter if not murder so that a jury can ascertain the facts.

Justice requires vigilance every day -- but not the kind of vigilance that Zimmerman had in mind. Meanwhile, I'm reminded that "old Florida" was as much a part of the oppressive South as any state.