I am Trayvon Martin. If a kid minding his own business on the way home from the store can be confronted and killed with impunity just because he looked suspicious—based on the stereotypical beliefs of an overzealous volunteer neighborhood watchman—then no one is safe in this country and no one can be guaranteed justice. We are all Trayvon Martin.
Today a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder. It is widely argued that Florida’s stand your ground statute, which was considered by the defense, and which Zimmerman previously studied in a criminal litigation course, was at play. The statute allows people to use proportionate force in the face of an attack without first trying to retreat or escape. More than 20 other states have such laws.
With the recent ruling in the George Zimmerman case debates on race relations have filled the headlines, along with heated commentary about the future of gun control legislation. Florida resident, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty of the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin after pleading self defense. Zimmerman’s lawyers argued that under the Stand Your Ground laws of Florida Zimmerman was completely justified in shooting the unarmed teen. This incident has fueled a great deal of controversy over the legitimacy of Stand Your Ground and gun control laws in the United States as a whole. Nationally, the Zimmerman trial has managed to push gun control back to the forefront of public policy discussions.
Navasha Daya is a singer, songwriter, producer, and spiritual and cultural arts activist, who from childhood was inspired and encouraged to use her voice and talents for upliftment and change. Steadfast in her dedication to the upliftment of the community, she along with Fanon Hill and youth mentees Rashard Willliams and Cherdaya Allen, co-founded the Baltimore City Youth Resiliency Institute, now the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI).
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required states with a documenting history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their voting laws. When the law was passed in 1965, one of its main targets were “literacy tests.”
The Supreme Court struck down a fundamental civil rights section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this past Tuesday, June 25. Section 4 determines which states must gain federal permission before they alter any of their voting laws. It was specifically created to protect the voting right’s of African- Americans in the South. The passing of the Voting Rights Act was a monumental civil rights victory for African Americans, especially for civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., who worked tirelessly to ensure the laws passing.
Last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, concerning the constitutionality of the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) admissions policy. In a 7-1 majority opinion, the Court ruled to preserve the principle that universities may consider racial and ethnic diversity as one factor among many in a carefully crafted admissions policy.
Immigration reform is an often-debated issue at the local, state and federal level, and there are many differing opinions on how to best deal with undocumented immigrants. But it seems that immigration reform is finally making progress with the latest immigration bill passing its first procedural hurdle on the Senate floor Tuesday, June 11 in a 82-15 vote.