Trayvon Martin resonates: African American Senate Chaplain tells own story
March 23rd, 2012
04:32 PM ET
10 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. Alex in Wisconsin

    wow, Truth is on a roll. I didn't figure him to the type who stood against seeking justice for murder or to be against hoodies. Seriously man (or woman?) every few articles, take the hate hat off and say something nice about someone. Everyone knows you hate President Obama so much you puke just imagining a world where he wins a second term. Howabout showing everyone the nicer side of the Truth for once.

    I think it's good that the President sent his condolences to the victim's family (I assume Truth disapproves). I also think that Americans wearing hoodies is a great way of bringing awareness to this injustice (I assume Truth disagrees). I think local officials have completely botched te investigation to the point wear even if Zimmerman got arrested, he would likely get off due to the evidence the police didn't get (I hope Truth at least agrees with that, I know he would if Obama was on the police force). I can only hope the state investigator makes an arrest because there isn't enough evidence for the feds to make this a federal hate crime (I assume Truth agrees with that). But until Zimmerman is thrown into jail for the rest of his life, my thoughts will be with the family who lost their son, got screwed by the police, and are now hated on by certain people for seeking justice( I assume Truth doesn't care).

    March 23, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Jane

    @"Truth" – I am really confused. I've been reading your comments since 2009 (a painful but necessary job) and I have yet to figure out for sure if you're 1) an obnoxious, 'precocious' 14 year old who gets his homework done (or blows it off) so he can preen in front of the website's audience; 2) a soulless unemployed slacker (probably on that horrible government 'welfare', being paid by a professional right wing blogger to monitor the sites he/she can't get to; or 3) just as nasty, judgmental and uninformed as your words color you. Guess it'll be easier to figure out when the President is re-elected and "Truth" makes a hasty exit...

    March 23, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Pedrons

    This is nothe stupid about black and white!! its about loosing human life without dignity!!. The buck stops with the stupid law designed by morons paid by NRA to make sure that there are enough guns running on the streets.

    March 23, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  4. Pedrons

    This is not about black and white its a bout a stupid law designed by morons paid for NRA to make sure that their products (guns) have more customers

    March 23, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    Truth is really off the rails tonight and his/her racism is ever more apparent. Sadly, it's a perfect example of why America needs to move forward. History is basically a record of dragging slow-witted people into the future. Now is no different.

    March 23, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. FIELD1stSGT

    DENNA – I'm a white woman and I put on one today in honor of this murdered child.

    Did you drop your trousers to the middle of your legs and walk like a duck also?

    March 23, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  7. Golden Girl

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth says:
    March 23, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm
    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"

    HEY STUPID! It's hard to keep ones "nose" out of things when you are THE PRESIDENT!!!

    March 23, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. ksmary

    @Truth and nothing but..I guess you are getting your information from talking heads on right wing radio. The birth control issue was a request that the insurance that the women pay for cover all legal health care issues. What they are getting is a partial plan and paying for a full plan. It is like buying fire insurance for your house and being told because your house is green only repairs to the North, South and East walls will be covered in event of a fire, but if your house is blue, all walls will be covered, even though both plans are presented as the same and cost, the same.

    March 23, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Truth and yada yada: "Well when women keep demanding government pay for the care and feeding of said private parts, ..."

    Women are demanding that their INSURERS cover contraceptives (which many insurance companies do because it makes good financial and health sense), not the government.

    BTW, I'm assuming you're referring to Sandra Fluke. Catholic University, which attends, requires students to carry health insurance, but it does not cover contraceptive care (if she were an employee of Catholic University, she would have it, because employees' policies DO cover contraceptive care). Her request was for the private insurance cover it – again, NOT the government.

    You would do well to unplug yourself from Fox and learn to think for yourself.

    March 24, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  10. ThinkAgain

    Truth and yada yada, in criticizing Denna, wrote: "BWAHAHAHAHA!!! How deliciously, pathetically liberal of you. I bet you instantly felt black!"

    Just because you, yada, are incapable of compassion doesn't mean the rest of us aren't. (Hint: Jesus taught compassion; you might give it a try sometime.)

    March 24, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @Mom to 3: I am also the mother of three (boys, as a matter of fact) and am extremely fortunate to be able to see past a person's outward appearance and see the humanity within. My heart broke when I heard about Trayvon; I can't imagine having to deal with the violent, senseless death of one of my children.

    March 24, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
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