GENE ROBERTSON: Lesson from Trayvon Martin

Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:54 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 1, 2012

Trayvon Martin, you are teaching us a much-needed lesson.

In an age when global corporations are influencing national governments in ways never imagined, our Supreme Court has heavily influenced the legislative process of the United States by ruling that corporations are "citizens" and by creating the opportunity for PACs.

Meanwhile our legislative branch under corporate influence urges contracts to be made for administrative branches that might not need or want the products.

At the state and local levels, similar actions under influences of pressure carrots or sticks take place without appropriate consideration regarding the broad ramifications of too many legislative actions.

Vulnerable citizens like Trayvon and his family generally feel helpless when they are adversely affected by these systemic behaviors. This time when traditional methods of seeking accountability were utilized with unsatisfactory results, the family, friends and supporters resorted to notational means to draw attention to their situation and plight.

Trayvon's family, friends and supporters gathered all of the information available. They framed a story that people could understand and relate to. They offered ways that others might help. They utilized all forms of communication available. They were persistent.

We now have a national discussion and movement around this issue. Watch how the parents, the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others have become leaders around this issue. While this issue and its many ramifications have not yet been satisfactorily been resolved, they are not giving up. They are teaching us that we can become dynamic citizens no matter how powerful the systemic barriers.

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


James Krewson March 29, 2012 | 7:02 a.m.

We also have learned how to form a lynch mob and convict people in the court of public opinion without due process. Black Panthers, Spike Lee, etc, all using social media to try and hunt down a man who hasn't been charged with any crime. I remember a time when blacks were accused and convicted without due process. Do we really want to go back to that era?

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.