Thursday, September 21 , 2017, 10:38 am | Partly Cloudy 68º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Trayvon Martin Vigil at UCSB Opens Up Dialogue About Race and Equality

University academics lead an emotional discussion in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the black teen's shooting death

The death of a young, unarmed teenager, which has reignited discussions of race and equality nationwide, prompted an emotional dialogue Tuesday as UC Santa Barbara academics thoughtfully reflected on how such a youthful life could have been lost.

Described as the first of what is expected to be many events on campus, the university’s Black Studies and Feminist Studies departments hosted a vigil for Trayvon Martin and a recommitment meeting for students, faculty and others who desire a different type of America.

An audience packed into a Multicultural Center theater Tuesday afternoon to consider the repercussions of a Florida jury’s decision to acquit George Zimmerman of all charges relating to the 2012 shooting death of Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old.

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, claimed he was acting in self-defense.

A verdict in the high-profile case was handed down July 13, but some speakers Tuesday said they still had trouble finding the right words to join the public outcry.

The vigil served as an awakening for citizens — no matter the color of their skin — to confront “myths of the black man as danger” and to keep someone else from being taken from the world in such a needlessly, violent way, according to feminist studies professor Eileen Boris.

She said she was embarrassed of the verdict reached by the jury of white women, and noted that some mothers’ sons will have to deal with more injustice than others.

The frank discussion brought Gaye Johnson, an associate professor of black studies, to tears at times as she organized the thoughts she has had in recent weeks.

“He was an unarmed child who was murdered by an armed man,” Johnson said.

The verdict came from what is still a racist society, she said, noting racial profiling and hostile commenting on news articles about Martin as examples of prejudice in action.

Bishop Broderick Higgins Sr., a pastor of Saint Paul Baptist Church in Oxnard, commented on demographic bullying and the fears and concerns he has heard since the verdict.

All speakers voiced hope that the pain of the tragedy would help solidify a more stern steadfastness for change — something evident in past civil rights cases.

“That’s where our resolve can come from,” Johnson said. “What will we let Trayvon Martin do for us?”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >