Russell D. Moore Says Black and White Americans Need to Have a Conversation on Race In Light of the Trayvon Martin Case

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The dramatic difference between how black and white Americans view the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case calls for ongoing conversations between people from both groups, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore says.

Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), addressed the divide between many blacks and whites as reactions mounted to the July 13 not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of Martin, a 17-year-old African American.

Blacks look at the trial "macroscopically," while whites view it "microscopically," he said.

"African Americans tend to speak about the case in broad social and political terms," Moore said in Newsweek's July 17 cover story, "but we rarely get to hear their own quiet, personal stories."

"[M]any white Americans deal in particulars, without realizing it's larger than that," Moore said. "It's not just about this individual case; it's about the fabric of American history. We have to recognize that African Americans see Trayvon Martin's face alongside Medgar Evers, Emmett Till and others that most people will never know. We have to acknowledge that in our conversations."

Evers was a civil rights leader who was shot dead in 1963 in the driveway of his Jackson, Miss., home. Till, 14, was brutally beaten and shot to death in 1955 in rural Mississippi after reportedly whistling at a white woman.

Moore acknowledged he, as a white man, didn't appreciate an important aspect of the case.

"The real message of the Martin case didn't hit me until an African American pastor, a friend of mine, told me that there are some places he doesn't want his young son to go, because he's 'afraid of him becoming another Trayvon,'" Moore told Newsweek.

"This man was fearful for his son's personal safety," Moore continued. "That hits home for me, as a father and as a man. And it's the type of personal story that can shatter the myth that everything is OK."

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode
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