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Trayvon Martin’s Father To Speak On Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, (UPI) –  Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, is expected to talk about black males in the United States in a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, lawmakers said.

Martin agreed to give the opening remarks at a hearing titled “The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men,” said Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting House Democrat representing Washington, D.C.

The 2-hour hearing beginning at 3 p.m. will be the first organized by the new Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, started in March by Davis and Norton, both members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Martin’s remarks will mark his first Capitol Hill appearance since a Sanford, Fla., jury acquitted neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman July 13 of murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Martin’s son, an unarmed black 17-year old.

Public reaction to the verdict has been divided sharply along racial and political lines, with blacks and Democrats more likely to disagree with it and whites and Republicans more likely to agree, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday indicated.

Martin spoke last year on Capitol Hill about his son’s killing before House Judiciary Committee Democrats examining racial profiling and hate crimes.

President Obama spoke about race relations Friday in light of the verdict after days of angry protests across the country and mounting public pressure.

He said the verdict was profoundly distressing for many blacks, who he said deal with racial prejudice throughout their lives.

He gave three examples of racist indignities black men regularly face in the United States.

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me,” he said.

“There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.

“There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often,” Obama said.

“Those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida,” Obama said. “And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”

Obama began his remarks by saying: “When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, caucus members will hear testimony and question three witnesses after Martin speaks, Davis and Norton said in a statement.

The three witnesses are:

– David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, who is expected to address issues facing black boys.

– Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor, who will focus on issues confronting black youth.

– Kweisi Mfume, a former NAACP president, former Democratic congressman from Maryland and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, who is expected to speak about black manhood.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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