Trayvon Martin’s father to speak on Capitol Hill

Trayvon Martin’s father will speak at Wednesday’s inaugural hearing of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys.

Tracy Martin will give the opening remarks at a hearing called “The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature into Strong Men.” The newly formed caucus is chaired by Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

The hearing will also feature three other speakers, each of whom will address a different stage in the life of black males in the U.S.

It will be Martin’s first visit to Capitol Hill since a Florida jury earlier this month acquitted neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman of murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of his son, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.

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Zimmerman’s attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense, but civil rights groups have alleged racial bias in the verdict and led demonstrations across the country in protest.

The public reaction to the verdict has cut sharply along racial and political lines, with blacks and Democrats more likely to disagree with the outcome, and whites and Republicans more likely to agree, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday.

Martin spoke about his son’s death on Capitol Hill last year at a special forum with Democrats on the House Judiciary panel on racial profiling and hate crimes.

Last week, President Obama waded into the controversy, delivering personal remarks on race relations and his own experiences with discrimination. 

Obama said the verdict was a bitter pill for many blacks, who he said deal with racial prejudice throughout their lives.

“When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son,” Obama said. “Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

When you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” the president continued.

“There are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of being followed in a department store,” Obama added. “That includes me.”

The Department of Justice has said they are reviewing the evidence from the trial as they weigh whether to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are also drafting a number of bills including anti-violence measures, efforts to scrap "stand your ground" laws and prohibitions on racial profiling.