Not Old News: Trayvon Martin, The President, and the “Common Ground” of Real Issues

This week I referenced President Obama’s speech following the Trayvon Martin ruling. Why? One, because it was brilliant! Two, because it was a prime example of what all of us need to do: get to the “common ground” of the real issues.

Give it a listen in its entirety if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet.

Why was the President’s speech that day in July so brilliant? Certainly the situation surrounding the Trayvon Martin ruling was racially charged, controversial and volatile. Within days of the ruling the President stood calmly, respectfully, and purposefully before the nation and did what he had to do. He provided leadership and gave us strategies for moving forward.

His first point of focus was to ensure that the larger “context” of the “African American experience” in America was recognized, not denied. He then laid out strategies for moving forward. Amongst the President’s list of strategies:

  • to “push out” training (at the state/local level) for law enforcement to “reduce mistrust” (potentially covering how to think about potential racial bias, and ways to further professionalize what they are doing)

  • to focus on “bolstering and reinforcing” African American boys/men with more “pathways and avenues to succeed”

  • for all of us “to do some soul searching,” and to ask ourselves (including in families, churches, workplace settings), “Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?”

These are more than strategies. These are more than issues that affect African Americans. These are strategies to address issues that affect all of us. And more brilliantly, the President made sure to delineate strategies calling on all of us as individuals and as a society to recognize a shared sense of responsibility.

I would be amiss to not include another example of brilliance and a whole lot of courage following the ruling: Trayvon Martin’s Dad Tracy Martin Before the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys

Also, here’s news about The Trayvon Martin Foundation

I wrote a reflection piece not long after the Trayvon Martin ruling I’d like to share with you: Using the Power of Diversity and Inclusion as a “Feelings to Data Industry” to Drive the Development of Public/Political WiIl. Let the work of getting to the “common ground” of the real issues continue.


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