The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent our advertisers

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin: What RFK Said

Dear Friend:

I live in Orlando, so a number of people have asked me what I think about the death of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon, a teenager, was shot dead by a "neighborhood watch" member as Trayvon was walking home from a convenience store. Trayvon was armed with nothing but a bottle of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. For me, it calls to mind the sentiments in the speech that Robert F. Kennedy gave from his heart on April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis, after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. This is what Robert F. Kennedy said:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some – some very sad news for all of you – Could you lower those signs, please? – I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we – and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.


Alan Grayson


Anonymous said...

Nice to see Grayson running true to form. He was jerk while he was in office and during his last losing campaign. Promoting fellowship after calling his (winning) opponent "Taliban Dan".
The comparison of the circumstances between these shootings is an outrage, even if Grayson has already convicted the shooter, who apparently was an Hispanic.

Anonymous said...

He looks hispanic to me. Besides all of that, what does his race have anything to do with this? You see, racism will not end in our world. It's just the way we behave and escalate these situations.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see everyone is witholding judgement until both sides of the story are known. Also glad to see our president getting mired in the middle of this as if he had nothing better to do. He has done more to harm race relations in this country than any other president within the last 30 years. I guess this is the "change" he had in mind.

lastword said...

Trayvon was no MLK. This shooting was no assassination. Too much is being made of this.

His parents, and a lot of other UN-involved people, want an arrest made.

The police decided the facts did not warrant an arrest, or a charge.

Both the victim and the shooter are from Fla., so they should know their own state law. Better than us I would imagine.

The parents, the police, the states atty., and the lawyers involved with this case are the only ones who should be addressing it.

Everyone else should just go on home. There is nothing to see here.