Monday, July 8, 2013


 I am watching the trial.

The George Zimmerman trial.

I am caught up in the drama, the emotion, and even the entertainment aspect of this trial.

HLN (Headline News, an CNN afficliate) is running the trial in its entirety-including the segments  for which the jury is removed from the court.  We not only see the onstage performance, but the behind the scenes battles and maneuvers, as well.

This is being played out on the national stage.

And the audience- glued to the action in the courtroom-- watches from the sidelines, full of advise, opinions, hopes and fears.

We watch almost like this is a sports events --cheering on the side of our choice.

Each side recontructs that fateful night--the night Trayvon Martin died.
Each side presents witnesses who swear to tell the truth to the best of their help them God.

Each witness has their truth neatly unfolded like a quilt and laid out before everyone.  
Then lawyers slowly pick at the threads in an effort to tear up this particular quilt of truth and lay the shreds before the jury-- to the benefit of whichever side they represent.

Each side seeks truth-- or rather each side presents its own truth with the hope that it becomes the truth the jury sees.

This trial will take its place on the list of others that have captured our nation's undivided attention.
This trial and its results will be counted among those that initiate new conversations--conversations about race and laws and freedom and America.
This trial will ultimately rank among those that transform our nation.

There have been other trials, with which we still remain fascinated--others that opened important conversations and changed who we are as a nation.  Among them are:

  • The Salem Witch Trials
  • The  Dred Scott Case
  • The Scopes Trial
  • The Trial of Jack Ruby
  • Roe V. Wade
  • The O.J. Simpson Trial
America on Trial: Inside Legal Battles that Transformed Our Nation by Alan M. Dershowitz allows us to look behind the scenes and the headlines to closely examine 60 of the most important and intriguing of these transformative trials. 

He goes back some 300 years to colonial days to the Salem Witch Trials and brings us forward again to more recent and current  trials like The Clinton Impeachment Trial, to examine how these legal battles shaped our nation and its citizens.

And  we all remember reading the great trial books in high school.
Those classics recounted narratives based on real cases, as well as those fictional ones that imitated the best or worst of our public behavior and legal legacy.


How did these trial books become the classics that we feel all American students should read? 
Perhaps because they reveal our character, our flaws and brokenness, our greatest fears and tightest held hopes ---and our ability to rise above the worst among us to build and rebuild our nation and our American character repeatedly--individually and collectively.

As I researched the trial, I came across this publication by national commentator, columnist, and radio host, Earl Ofari Hutchinson.  In America on Trial: The Slaying of Trayvon Martin, released on the eve of the George Zimmerman trial,  he lays out background information that may serve as a watching companion.

It is Hutchinson's thought that more is at stake than just the fate of George Zimmerman.
The Martin slaying was now firmly and indelibly embedded in America's public mind as not just a personal tragedy of a young life needlessly lost, and  the tragedy of a man who thought he was doing his duty to protect his community.  It is now a tragedy that ignited a national soul search. The Martin slaying now put race, the justice system, and indeed, public perception and attitudes toward both squarely on trial.
 For more of his view see His Blog The Hutchinson Political Report or webpage, The Hutchinson Report News

As the trial marches forward to its conclusion, we hold our breath.
Who wins and who loses?

Trayvon is the biggest loser--he lost his life.

He can't appear in the court room to tell his story.
He has to depend on the evidence--concrete and circumstantial-- witnesses and lawyers, to tell his story from the grave.

His family has lost-- lost him, their right to grieve in peace, and their privacy.

George Zimmerman has lost, as well.
He has caused his family much grief, as they defend his actions.

Both mothers claim their son is the one screaming and crying for help on the now infamous 911 tape from the scene that night.

We have all lost.
A child  who was walking to his own house from the store, carrying an Arizona Tea and a box of Skittles--a child who looks like my step-sons-- is dead

According to Sam Stein of the Huffington Post President  Obama responded following this event:

If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.

That this tragedy could happen in our country speaks volumes about our country and who we are.

Stein reports that Obama went on to say:

Obviously, this is a tragedy... I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together -- federal, state and local -- to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened...I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen.  And that means we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.

The  jury's decision will change our country and inform that conversations we will have in the future.

Who will the jury believe?

Who do you believe?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

As you watch the trial, think about the evidence being presented from different perspectives.

How is Trayvon's mother hearing what is being presented?
How is George's mother hearing what is being presented?

What are members of the Black, White and Latino communities thinking about the trial so far?

What is the goal of the defense?
What is the goal of the prosecution?

What are your predicitions about the outcomes of the George Zimmerman trial?
How will this outcome affect our nation?

Write an argumentative essay about the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman.  Support your arguments with evidence from the trial presentedbefore the jury.

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