Mothers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown urge students to speak up about racial inequality

The women were joined by CNN's Fredricka Whitfield and Sunny Hostin and attorney Benjamin Crump, who all called for better media representation of black shooting victims.

With hundreds sitting in the audience, Lesley McSpadden sat onstage at the Goldstein Auditorium and recalled her last family trip with her late son, Michael Brown. She snapped a picture of him catching a fish. “I look at the picture and see his face,” McSpadden said in tears. “He was a bright kid, and he had a bright future.”

Photo: Abby Sugnet

Brown died at age 18 in August 2014 from a gunshot confrontation with white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sitting next to McSpadden was Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. Martin, a black 17-year-old, died after being shot in Florida by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was later acquitted in February 2012. When a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, it sparked nationwide protests at the end of 2014, calling for justice for black lives.

The two mothers, attorney Benjamin Crump, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield, and legal analyst Sunny Hostin urged the media, college students and everybody to speak up about racial injustice during the Injustice For All panel Wednesday night.

 “It is about bringing an awareness to racial profiling, to stereotyping, to discrimination. I have to do my part, and I just ask everybody to do their part as well,” Fulton said. She countered the racial profiling that labeled black teens wearing hoodies as dangerous and violent, and recalled Martin as a very funny and affectionate teenager.

Crump, the lead attorney for the Trayvon Martin case, said media coverage underrepresented cases where blacks were confronted by white police officers and juries. “We need to speak up for our children, because if we don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it for us,” Crump said. “Don’t tell me that you all can’t make a difference. We all have a role to play, and we all have to play our roles.”

Hostin said the media focused on what the victims did to prompt shootings, which often justified their deaths. She urged the media to reframe their focus from victim shaming and blaming to the families and communities of the victims. “Journalists of color need to have the courage to stand up and tell the stories,” she said.

Whitfield said race is an uncomfortable topic to talk about in the media and among the people not directly affected by racial issues, but discussions about these issues would help lead to racial justice. “The more we address these uncomfortable issues, the more we talk about these tragedies, the closer we are to coming to a solution, and the better we will be as a country,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield and Hostin also encouraged college students to continue racial justice movements in everyday interactions and political movements. Whitfield said they should first start to step out of comfort zones by talking with people from different social backgrounds on dorm floors. And Hostin urged college students to talk to police departments and organize peaceful protests about racial injustice. “Be heard on the political level, because that’s the truly effective change,” she said.

Alumna Cassandra Medard said the panel opened up a great conversation about the issues. “Following up with these types of conversations is very important,” Medard said.

Sports management senior Elijah Biggins described the panel as eye-opening, “But it’s just sad that out of thousands of young black men who were killed, it’s only two of them that are getting national publicity,” he said.

race hoax

Do your homework! consider why zimmerman was aquitted in a court of Law. Trayvon was the aggressor and zimmerman the victim of his assault. Same for mike brown. he was also aggressor who assaulted a police officer. That's Truth. Sunny hostin is supposed to be a legal analyst but she's in cahoots with Benjamin crump and has on several occasions used her perch at CNN to propagate false narratives supporting his clients. The Lies these people have told have been the impetus for the current racial strife in this country. shame on them and SU for hosting them.

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