I heard about this book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” when Trayvon Martin’s parents appeared as guests on a recent episode of “The Daily Show”. They’d taken their story, which started when Trayvon was born, and put it into print for all to read.
And I immediately added my name to the reserve list at the library. It took a few months for my name to be at the top of the list, but it finally happened, and I read a majority of this book in one day. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:
Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.
On a February evening in 2012, in a small town in central Florida, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with candy and a can of juice in hand and talking on the phone with a friend when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. The watchman was briefly detained by the police and released. Trayvon’s father—a truck driver named Tracy—tried to get answers from the police but was shut down and ignored. Trayvon’s mother, a civil servant for the city of Miami, was paralyzed by the news of her son’s death and lost in mourning, unable to leave her room for days. But in a matter of weeks, their son’s name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media. And at the head of a growing nationwide campaign for justice were Trayvon’s parents, who—driven by their intense love for their lost son—discovered their voices, gathered allies, and launched a movement that would change the country.
Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin’s name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child’s death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade?
Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It’s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning.
While reading this book made my heart break all over again for Trayvon, for his family, his friends, and for the live he didn’t get to live, it opened my eyes to a lot of new details I didn’t know before: like just how secretive the Sanford Police Department was to his family; and how many of the “facts” in the case simply don’t add up.
A friend of my questioned why I was reading this book. For one, I am very sensitive to racial injustice, and it is one of the topics that gets me most fired up because to me, it is very obvious that we are surrounded by institutional racism, and I feel it is my job as a woman with white privilege to speak out against what I know is wrong.
But I also know that even at his core, Trayvon is innocent. He was victim-blamed, despite not being armed at all, his school records were subpoenaed even though he was a minor, and many people talked about his past – maybe he stole this or maybe he smoked weed. But walking while black is not a crime, and he died for it.
I am very thankful for Trayvon’s parents for having the courage to write this book, along with the bravery to continue to fight for justice for their son, and for many, many others who have fallen in the name of unjustified violence. Although we still have a very long way to go, the conversation is forever changed, and I know Trayvon will never be forgotten.
I absolutely would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you didn’t pay attention to this case (or any that followed). The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “My Year With Eleanor” by Noelle Hancock.
I hope you have a fun, fantastic weekend – make it a great one, and do something good for someone else! I’ll see you all on the flipside!
On Sunday, I vowed to myself to spend lots of time in bed and/or on the couch, just relaxing, and doing a little bit of cleaning out my DVR. This included watching one of the best journalistic thrillers ever: “All the President’s Men”!
“All the President’s Men” is based on the true story of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and their investigation into the Watergate scandal in the early 70’s.
I saw this movie for the first time at Columbus North High School (Go Bulldogs!) during my very first journalism class. Oh, the memories! While I enjoyed watching the movie then, I didn’t cherish the details of what I saw when I watched it on Sunday: the typewriters, the newsroom with landlines and rotary phones, reporters in ties and jackets, and the mere fact that to reach a deadline, you physically had to be present in the room to drop the typed draft into the editor’s basket. That is some classy shit.
The Watergate scandal started with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in DC, and it was later discovered that the Nixon administration was involved – after lots and lots of attempts to cover it up, naturally.
Part of this coverup meant the Nixon administration went to great lengths to figure out who was on to them, including bugging offices of their opponents, and anyone who seemed suspicious. The administration also used the FBI and the CIA to investigate activists and political figures. Hmm… sound familiar?
All of this drama from Nixon was actually a violation of the constitution, which lead to impeachment, and eventually, his resignation. And Bernstein and Woodward had a lot to do with uncovering all of the coverups, basically following the money that was given to the “robbers” back to the Nixon campaign.
We’ve been hearing a lot of references to Watergate lately, especially with President Trump’s blind accusation of former President Obama of wire tapping Trump Tower. Why? How? Really? Nothing has come out yet, and if I had to guess, it won’t.
But what I do know is that there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in the Trump administration – a lot of tricks to get the opposition to look one way, while there’s a shit storm in the other direction, and frankly, it’s creepy.
The thing is, Woodward and Bernstein used two very old-school journalism tactics to get the information they needed: charm and trust. They were able to get solid sources, and their sources handed over valuable information without fear of being named and getting caught.
This is one reason why Trump’s “Fake News” is the most terrifying thing out of his mouth, perhaps ever. Because he’s already insinuating that when (not if) the news reports something dangerously true (RUSSIA), then, well, it’s simply “fake”.
We’re what, two months into the Trump presidency, and shit is already super questionable, so I’m certain these comparisons to Watergate won’t stop anytime soon. The cool thing is, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are still around to comment on it, like the bad asses in chinos they once were.
“Trump’s attacks on the American press as ‘enemies of the American people’ are more treacherous than Richard Nixon’s attacks on the press,” former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. You can read the full story here, and you should probably go ahead and watch “All the President’s Men”, at least for the indoor cigarettes and parking lot shots of Deep Throat.
“Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment of the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of this country.” -All the President’s Men