The night that a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of killing Travyon Martin, Otis Moss III, the pastor of Barack Obama’s old Chicago church, Trinity United Church of Christ, sat down to talk with his son after watching the verdict. “Daddy, am I next?” asked his 12-year-old.
It is a haunting question that parents across the country are grappling with in the wake of Martin’s tragic death. Racially-charged trials and the national debates that follow are not new for this country. But for many, this time feels different. The verdict comes on the heels of the Supreme Court decision that invalidated key portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a victory of the Civil Rights era. It comes just a month before the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington. As the poet Maya Angelou put it, Martin’s death and its aftermath had a collective effect. “What is really injured, bruised, if you will, is the psyche of our national population,” she says. “We are all harmed. We are all belittled.”
Our cover story this week, “After Trayvon,” focuses on the effects of the verdict on a nation with a black President that has yet to fulfill his post-racial promise. The trial may have ended, but its repercussions have only begun.