The Father of Trayvon Martin, Tracy Martin, testifies as a defense witness on day twenty of George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court Sanford, Florida, July 8, 2013. Tracy Martin will speak at a hearing in Capitol Hil about black males. UPI/Joe Burbank/Pool | License Photo
WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, told lawmakers in Washington Wednesday he wants to see so-called stand-your-ground laws changed to protect children.
Martin, whose unarmed 17-year-old son was shot to death during a 2012 confrontation with Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, told the new Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys he won't led Zimmerman's acquittal "sum up who Trayvon was," WUSA-TV, Washington, reported.
"I think 50 years from now, when I'm dead and gone, I would like to see Trayvon Martin's name attached to some type of statute, amendment, that says you can't simply profile our children, shoot them in the heart, kill them and say you were defending yourself," the elder Martin said.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., told those who attended the Capitol Hill meeting male African-Americans "are angry."
"They have a hole in their heart for all kinds of societal issues that impact black boys that I am so familiar with," she said, adding she hoped people would leave the room committed to doing something to fix the problem.
The caucus was started in March to raise awareness about issues that hit black men and youths. Wednesday's inaugural meeting was titled "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men," said Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting House Democrat representing Washington, D.C.
Three other witnesses also testified:
-- David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, who is expected to address issues facing black boys.
-- Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor, who will focus on issues confronting black youth.
-- Kweisi Mfume, a former NAACP president, former Democratic congressman from Maryland and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, who is expected to speak about black manhood.
Martin's remarks came during his first Capitol Hill appearance since a jury acquitted the 27-year-old Zimmerman July 13 of murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of his son.
Public reaction to the verdict has been divided sharply along racial and political lines, with blacks and Democrats more likely to disagree with it and whites and Republicans more likely to agree, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday indicated.
Martin spoke last year on Capitol Hill about his son's killing before House Judiciary Committee Democrats examining racial profiling and hate crimes.
President Obama spoke about race relations Friday in light of the verdict after days of angry protests across the country and mounting public pressure.
He said the verdict was profoundly distressing for many blacks, who he said deal with racial prejudice throughout their lives.
He gave three examples of racist indignities black men regularly face in the United States.
"There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me," he said.
"There are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator.
"There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often," Obama said.
"Those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida," Obama said. "And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear."
Obama began his remarks by saying: "When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."