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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The TRAYVON MARTIN / GEORGE ZIMMERMAN CASE is the sad inheritor or race relations.



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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IN BRIEF Despite all claims to impartiality, murder cases involving any Black American with a person of a different race or colour has long been racialized among the American public and continues to be so.


IN HISTORY:  The sad history of racial prejudice in the United States, despite its gradual recession through civil rights and equality of opportunity, has continued with George Zimmerman's shooting of  the black teenager Trayvon Martin. Whether the case ought to be racialized or not, the media and the public are bound to make it so.
       In my own view, we have no right automatically to assume racial prejudice in the minds of the six women jurors, if only because the mind of anyone, not least a protected and anonymous juror, is impossible to know.

       But I'm tempted to compare violence in Canada with violence in the United States. From the 19th century onward, you'll find a lot of knife fights in Canada, which end in a "stabbing affray" or multiple woundings and the occasional death. In cases of American frontier violence, what often began as a brawl, ended with one man shooting and killing the other. The most prominent and commonly recorded were white-on-white killings in the old west.
       Personally, I've been unable to see the Martin-Zimmerman case in terms of race. Perhaps I'm a naive Canadian but I keep looking at the minimum evidence. 
       According to witnesses, both men used terms that implied racial verbal abuse during the confrontation. It's only what happened afterward that's important.
        At that point there are only the physical facts and it's those that leave me perplexed with the verdict: I cannot understand why a man armed with a gun, being punched out by an unarmed man would scream for his life. I've found, even from experience, that men while being beaten or punched may yell and shout. But they do not scream hysterically for their lives.
       I have, however, heard of murder cases, including a trial I attended here in Toronto, where unarmed men shrieked and pleaded for their lives before they were shot to death. Those screams had to have been Trayvon Martin's. It doesn't matter whether he was black or white.
        I'm thinking of cases on the old American frontier where a brawl ended in a shooting death because one of the two was armed and succumbed to rage and pulled the trigger.
        Zimmerman could have held Martin off at gunpoint . Or at the very worst, no matter who was on top, he could have wounded him. But he didn't have to shoot him through the heart.
       In my admittedly distant view, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were probably both typical of  their neighbourhood. I can only say that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin because he lost control. Not because he was white and Martin was black.

      Whatever the facts, the Martin-Zimmerman case remains the sad inheritor or a long and tragic history of race relations.


Abolition of Slavery
1865- December 18- The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery is added to the Constitution.
1866- Jun 16 - The 14th Amendment declaring all persons born on American soil, to be citizens (including blacks) is passed by Congress.

1870 - 15th Amendment Ratified, giving Blacks but not women the right to vote. 
1875- March 1 - The Civil Rights Act, giving equal rights to blacks in jury duty and accommodation is passed by the United
States Congress

1870s-1930s- epidemic of white mob lynchings of blacks, mostly in the American South.
1875- March 1 - The Civil Rights Act, giving equal rights to blacks in jury duty and accommodation is passed by the United States Congress.  It would be overturned in 1883 by the U.S. Supreme Court
1883-  Civil Rights Act overturned in 1883 by the U.S. Supreme Court with adverse effects for black Americans.
1896- May 18- Plessy versus Ferguson decision by the Supreme Court states that racial segregation is approved under the "separate but equal" doctrine.
1909- May 30- The National Conference of the Negro is conducted,
leading to the formation of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP). 
-Jim Crowe laws reinforce segregation throughout the South.
First Black Judge 
1937- March 26- William Henry Hastie is appointed to the federal
bench, becoming the first African-American to become a federal judge. 
Harlem Riots 
1943- June 21- Race riots in Detroit and Harlem cause forty deaths and seven hundred injuries.
1948- July 26- Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the United States military in signed into effect by President Harry S. Truman.
Rosa Parks
1955- December 1- Alabama-  Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, refuses to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, prompting the boycott and NAACP protect that would lead to the declaration that bus segregation laws were unconstitutional by a federal court.
Desegregation and Martin Luther King.
1956- March 12- One hundred and one congressmen from Southern states call for massive resistance to the Supreme Court ruling on desegregation.
1957- April 29- U.S. Congress approves the first civil rights bill since reconstruction with additional protection of voting rights.
1963- August 28- The Civil Rights march on Washington DC for Jobs and Freedom culminates with Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Over 200,000 people participated in the march for equal rights.  A monument is now planned on the National Mall to commemorate Dr. King, the speech, and his impact on Civil Rights.
1964- June 29- An omnibus legislation in the U.S. Congress on Civil Rights is passed.  It banned discrimination in jobs, voting and accommodations.
Voting Rights.
1965- August 6 - The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.  Two significant portions of the act; the outlawing of the requirement of potential voters to take a literacy test in order to qualify and the provision of federal registration of voters in areas with less than 50% of all voters registered.
1967 July - race riots plague U.S. cities.  In Newark, New Jersey, twenty-six are killed, fifteen hundred injured and one thousand arrested from July 12 to 17.  One week later, July 23 to 30, forty are killed, two thousand injured, and five thousand left homeless after rioting in Detroit, known as the 12th Street Riots, decimate a black ghetto.  The riots are eventually stopped by over 12,500 Federal troopers and National Guardsmen.
Martin Luther King Assassinated.
1968 - Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King assassinated.
1986- January 20- Martin Luther King Day is officially observed for the first time as a federal holiday in the United States.
Rodney King.
1991- March 3- Los Angeles- Prolonged and brutal police beating of black motorist Rodney King video taped and broadcast.
1992- April 29- Los Angeles- Acquittal of police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.
-on the same day as the verdict on the Rodney King case was announced, the Los Angeles black neighbourhoods erupted in rioting which resulted in 53 deaths.
OJ Simpson.
1995- Oct 3- Los Angeles- black football star and actor OJ Simpson is found not guilty in the stabbing murders of his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson's celebrity and the prospect of a black-on-white murder makes the California v. Simpson case one of the most racially charged in US history.

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