Trayvon Martin resonates: African American Senate Chaplain tells own story
March 23rd, 2012
04:32 PM ET
2 years ago

Trayvon Martin resonates: African American Senate Chaplain tells own story

Washington (CNN) – Senate Chaplain Barry Black joined a rally organized by congressional staffers to draw attention to the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin and recounted how he was frisked by three police officers 25 years ago while on a walk.

Black, a retired and decorated Navy Admiral who is African American, appeared at the event on the Capitol steps dubbed "Hoodies on the Hill." Aides for both Democratic and Republican members of Congress wore hooded shirts and carried bags of Skittles, candy the teen bought before he was killed while walking in a Sanford, Florida community.

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Black told the story of his experience in 1987 when he had just moved to San Diego as a Navy Commander and was walking near his home when he abruptly found himself thrown on the hood of a car by the police.

Saying his mother warned him not to provoke anyone, Black said the police officer "informed me that they had received three phone calls that a suspicious person was walking through the neighborhood and they thought maybe he might be casing homes. And so that was the reason why I was being frisked without being asked for any kind of identification or anything."

When officers found his identification in his sock indicating he was a Navy Commander they reacted "with incredulity," he said.

Black, who counsels senators and aides and opens each session on the Senate floor with a prayer, was asked to lead a prayer at the end of the rally, but surprised many at the event with his personal story.

"So it is a very real challenge and the death of Trayvon diminishes us," Black told the crowd, while clutching his own bag of Skittles.

A series of young congressional aides talked about the need to continue highlighting Martin's case.

Brandon Andrews, representing a group called African American Men on the Hill, said he lived for two years in Florida and walked to work, and noted he could have suffered the same fate as Martin.

"We have a mandate, a mandate to ensure that young boys like Trayvon live their lives. That they're successful and that they have the opportunity that we have today," Andrews said."

A young girl held a sign that read "I have friends like Trayvon."

Stretching out his hand to the sky and surrounded by young Hill staffers Black, prayed, "God, in these challenging times we need you now."

He continued praying, "You will bring positives from this negatives, you will bring good from this evil for in everything you are working for the good of those who love you and are called according your purposes."

After the event Black told CNN that he has spoken to senators who have expressed concern about the incident in Florida and believes "the entire nation has been touched by this tragedy."

He said President Obama's comments on the issue on Friday were important.

"I think the president has the bully pulpit. When he speaks out against something it has a greater impact than when someone who does not have the ethos of his position speaks out."

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Filed under: Congress • Florida • Senate
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The ill thought out 'stand you ground' republican legislation will come back and hurt the GOP as much as their war on women and their war against affordable health care

    March 23, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Yup, just what this volatile situation needed, Obama sticking his stinking nose into it. Is there ANY event he will not use to get publicity? He never misses an opportunity to take advantage of the race card. Is he trying to get the hispanic that shot this kid killed or what? Why can't he just let local law authorities do their job? I guess he just doesn't have anything better to do.

    March 23, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. the dogs of war

    instead of instilling hatred and retribution against a brown man described as a white man who killed a black man address the black culture that so many black teens embrace that causes them to be stereotyped as hoodlums

    March 23, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. DENNA

    Wow, who knew that wearing a hoodie makes you a criminal? I'm a white woman and I put on one today in honor of this murdered child. We cannot keep doing this people. We pray to God as "christians" then we condone this crap. The shooter should be in jail right now!

    March 23, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Truth – My concern is where the republicans want to put their noses, near women's private parts.

    March 23, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Mom to 3

    Truth - Ummmm, President Obama is the PRESIDENT and doesn't need to do anything to get publicity, he gets it automatically. It would have been strange for President Obama NOT to comment on this story which is receiving so much attention throughout the nation and causing so much outcry because of the injustice of the situation. That said, President Obama commented with his usual eloquence. We are lucky to have such a great President.

    March 23, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Willie Floyd

    If the local authorities had done their job at the time of the murder all this may not be going on now. These "whities" as you idiots call them aren't exactly saints themselves! BTW-I'm white!! Racism disgusts me and I believe is a huge cause of the problems we are having in our country.

    March 23, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. Mikey

    @Truth – Is that what bothers you most about the senseless killing of an innocent young man? I think your comment says more about you than our President.

    March 23, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    DENNA - I'm a white woman and I put on one today in honor of this murdered child.
    ===================================================================
    BWAHAHAHAHA!!! How deliciously, pathetically liberal of you. I bet you instantly felt black! And weren't YOU the one criticizing Romney for saying Y'all??!! Thanks for a good laugh.

    March 23, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Wire Palladin, S. F. - Truth – My concern is where the republicans want to put their noses, near women's private parts.
    ================================================================================================
    Well when women keep demanding government pay for the care and feeding of said private parts, should they not be suprised that government officials like Bill Clinton keeping looking there. BTW, under Obamacare are cigars a legitimate medical expense?

    March 23, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Let me guess.... did the police act stupidly again??? Is it time for another beer summit??? I'm sure Obama will milk this horrendous episode for all he can get out of it.

    March 23, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Truth – Seek help immediately.

    March 23, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. SMH

    @Truth and Nothing but the Truth. Do you he know that republician candiates as well, gave their views of the tragedy situation as well. This needs to view and discuss and President Obama and Republician Candiates done great job giving there condolences to this very sad tragedy. So Truth, just please be quiet.

    March 23, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. w l jones

    I have live here in America all my life an only seen three or four African here in America an one in Korea none American. Said enough.

    March 23, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. Bob

    I see a whole lot of right wing stupidity on here today.

    March 23, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Wire Palladin, S. F. posts " put their noses, near women's private parts." and then tell ME to seek help?!!
    BWAHAHAHA!!! But I'm sure you're on a taxpayer funded medical plan that will pay for your obsession with the private parts of women. Might also ask them to cure you of hanging around school yards too!

    March 23, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Truth and Nothing But Ignorance

    @Truth, get a life and stay off the blogs.

    March 23, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  18. AZ-Independent

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth,

    YOur ignorance abounds. The President responded to a reporter's question, as well he should have. The Trayvon Martin case has galvanized our nation about the misinterpretation of a piece of legislation that exist in 27 states. In addition, this case illustrates the dangers of people prejudging others and taking the law into their own hands. It is not a black or white issue, and because of our Nation coming together to protest it, lawmakers will be forced to define and clarify the intent of the law more clearly, and this is a good thing for the Trayvon's family, David James, and the community at large.

    The President showed great leadership in articulating what most Americans are feeling about this situation; to dismiss the reporter's question in this case would have been merely a display of politics. Interestingly enough the field of GOP candidates weighed in as well after the President made his comments, and I would like to think it's because they understand the anguish of Trayvon's parents and the concern Americans are feeling over this incident, specifically "The Stand Your Ground" law.

    March 23, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Truth and Nothing But Ignorance - @Truth, get a life and stay off the blogs
    =============================================================
    Sorry, it is my mission in life to shine facts and truth onto the liberal lies posted so profusely on this blog. I shall be here until Rude NYC, Tommie Paine and Sniffin become card carrying Republicans.

    March 23, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  20. NickD

    President Obama isnt the problem. The problem is Zimmerman felt that as the head of the neighborhood watch he could bypass the police. Neighborhood watch, means to WATCH !The stand your ground law is for a person to protect themselves against an attacker, not to confront people, create a problem, when the dispatcher directly told him not to. He said on the 911 call, "these people", not "this kid", that statement alone is construed as racist. And NEWSFLASH!: Some Hispanics dont like African Americans! and a sidenote, the majority of hispanics vote republican/conservative. conservative radio pundits (Glen beck) have resorted to calling treyvon a thug and a hood (no pun intended). Does anyone see a pattern here?...

    March 23, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    No one officially knows where Zimmerman is. He has long sinced moved out of his residence to places unknown.

    March 23, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. The Funky Truth

    Its not Black or White, the police didn't do their job and arrest him, you can't go around taking the law into your own hands, thats why we have the police.

    March 23, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  23. Mike

    I find it interesting some are Blasting Obama for making a comment when the republican candidates were also making comments, and he didn';t stick his nose in it as some claim, he expressed his saddness over the killing of a youngman that has touched the hearts of millions of Americans, that he has faith that the system will work. He said what needed to be said and not more.....

    March 23, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  24. MaryG

    How about an updated photo of Trayvon. The ones shown show a 12 or 13 year old "little boy" when he's 17.

    March 23, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  25. eww

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth in desperate need of a rectal cranial extraction. The comments from this one clearly indicate how emotionally disturbed that person is.
    One doesn't need to look any further than the police dramas which have dominated TV and movies for years to realize there is something amiss in the handling of the situation on the part of the police. If they told Zimmerman not to pursue Martin, and it was ignored resulting in Martin being shot, there should be a clean thorough investigation. If a police officer fires on a suspect and kills them, they undergo a thorough investigation, including taking the firing officer off street duty until an investigation and counseling is completed. If Zimmerman was told NOT to pursue, which is pretty clear he was, the resulting death of Martin, the party he pursued, makes moot this "Stand Your Ground." And that unto itself requires an investigation.

    March 23, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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