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Martin and King

WI Staff | 3/29/2012, 4:23 p.m.

Some may take issue with any comparisons made between Trayvon Martin and Martin Luther King Jr. Right now the focus is on the killing of Trayvon, the 17-year-old black teen shot to death by George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman remains free and has not been charged for Trayvon's death. Sanford police were convinced that the killing was justified.

Zimmerman reportedly said he felt "threatened" and was defending himself, invoking the Stand Your Ground Law. A national outcry marked by mass demonstrations and calls for Zimmerman's arrest have resulted. People are calling for justice for Trayvon and his family and demanding a thorough investigation by federal law authorities.

People are talking about racial injustice, and joining a growing movement to address racial inequality in America. This same movement, 40 years ago, gave birth to Dr. King who fought the concept that race determines the rights of people to freedom and access. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King, 39, was shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. A white gunman who felt threatened by Dr. King and what he stood for assassinated him. Instead of wearing a hoodie, and carrying a pack of skittles and a can of iced tea, Dr. King often wore a preacher's robe, and carried his bible. Neither Trayvon, in his short life, nor Dr. King was perfect. But both of their untimely deaths revealed the racial tensions that exist among blacks and whites.

No matter what officials decide, seasoned activists, the few who are left that marched with Dr. King, know that the movement never ended and that it won't end any time soon. Trayvon's death proves it. And it is through his death that new activists are being born. They will have to be the one's to lead the next phase of civil rights movement on behalf of Trayvon's generation.

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