Viewpoint, Rev. Talbert Swan: In wake of Trayvon Martin case, should be better practitioners of love

By The Republican
on July 21, 2013 at 5:00 AM, updated July 21, 2013 at 5:03 AM

By Rev. TALBERT W. SWAN II, Springfield NAACP president

Today, many of our hearts are still raw from the tragic verdict that set a killer free. An unarmed child only two years out of puberty: a son, a friend, a nephew and a brother by the name of Trayvon Benjamin Martin was murdered for being young, hooded and black.

Our minds are not able to conceive the weight of grief that is upon the shoulders of the Martin family. However, despite the unbearable grief and justifiable anger, which they may feel, Trayvon’s family members have carried themselves with the utmost dignity throughout this entire ordeal.

Parents should never outlive their children. They should never have to endure the pain deposited by the doubly cruel specter of perpetuity. Never in their darkest musings did Trayvon’s parents dream that their son would be gunned down for carrying a lethal bag of candy.

Today we are shocked, dazed and confused by the implausible verdict of the jury, the poor performance of the prosecutor and the misdirection tactics of the defense.

Rev. Talbert W. Swan, IIThe unfortunate reality is that Trayvon was murdered twice. Once on that fateful night in February 2012, and then again across the airwaves as this young man was assassinated by media outlets, pundits, bloggers and right-wing activists seeking to ignite the latent fires of America’s racialized imagination and past.

The trial was about murder, gun violence and Stand Your Ground, however, as much as the privileged want to deny it, it was also about race.

What we witnessed were the results of a black boy encountering a person whose mind was infected with racial sensibilities, which defined a black child walking in his neighborhood as a threat, a thug, a deviant and a miscreant who was up to no good.

Of course all of this will be excavated by social critics for years to come. In the meantime, while we continue to talk about the sad reality of this verdict, we need to talk about some other things as well.

We need to talk about how to be better practitioners of love and justice. We need to talk about how to use our artistic skills to inspire the world to change, even as Marvin Gaye, through the art of song, raised the question “What’s going on?”

We need to talk about Martin Luther King’s quest to fight for justice in the face of injustice. We need to talk about the ministry of Jesus, who spent his life being an advocate for those who had no advocates. We need to talk about the fact that in 2013, 110 years after W.E.B. Dubois eloquently stated it in his book, “The Souls of Black Folk,” the problem of the 21st century remains “the problem of the color line.”

Sadly, we have been here before. Yet we must take this moment and continue to march on. We must march until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.

In the words of the late Unitarian minister and abolitionist, Theodore Parker, we must march on because while we may not understand the moral universe, “the arc is a long one. . . . I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.

Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, is the pastor of Spring of Hope Church Of God In Christ at 345 Alden St. in Springfield. He is also the current president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP.


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