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Tracy Martin Among Panelists at CCBMB Forum

Dorothy Rowley | 7/25/2013, 12:53 a.m.
A distinguished panel of African-American leaders joined members of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys (CCBMB) at the ...
Tracy Martin (center) father of slain teenager, Trayvon Martin, receives a standing ovation for being an excellent parent during the standing room only inaugural Congressional Caucus Black Men and Boys hearing held Wed., July 24 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Southeast. Martin was one of the panelists that included Kweise Mfume, former NAACP chief executive and Maryland Congressman, Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University in Northwest, Martin's attorney, Ben Crump, and David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Photo by Shevry Lassiter

A distinguished panel of African-American leaders joined members of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys (CCBMB) at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill Wednesday where they, along with Trayvon Martin’s father, discussed the plight of young black males.

The forum which lasted nearly two hours, was titled, “The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature into Strong Men,” and attracted about 200 people. The thought-provoking forum also focused on teaching young black males – who are often stereotyped from the time they first enter school -- to develop their own identities.

“We don’t want a society that defines [our African-American boys], but a society that allows them to define themselves as individuals,” said District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who joined Congressman Danny Davis of Illinois in convening the gathering on behalf of the CCBMB.

In addition to Tracy Martin and his attorney Ben Crump, the panel included Kweisi Mfume, former NAACP chief executive and Maryland congressman, David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University in Northwest D.C.

Martin and the slain Florida youth’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, have created the nonprofit Trayvon Martin Foundation -- which urges non-violence.

Martin said that to have a son is one the greatest gifts a man can receive.

“Just to think that [Trayvon’s] life would be taken is heartbreaking,” Martin said. “It’s something you never get over.”

But Martin, who added that he and his family have been hurt “by the demonizing” of his son’s name, said he will “never give up fighting for Trayvon and other black and brown boys.”

Referring to President Barack Obama’s speech last week regarding the not guilty verdict handed down in the George Zimmerman case, Martin said it was significant that the most important man in America had weighed in on the trial’s outcome.

Overall, “this calls for dinner-time conversations to [determine] how the same thing can be stopped from happening to someone else’s child,” Martin said. “[With the creation of our foundation] we’re taking a negative and turning it into a positive. It’s all about what we can do as a nation, and as a people, to stop someone else’s son from being killed.”

Read this article in its entirety in the Aug. 1 print edition of The Washington Informer.