(Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)
Tracy Martin, father of deceased teenager Trayvon Martin, spoke on Capitol Hill on Wednesday at the newly formed Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, a hearing with the purpose of discussing the status of young black men in America.
While providing the opening comments for Wednesday's inaugural caucus, Martin spoke on the importance of moving forward following the death of his son Trayvon, so other families need not feel the pain he experienced in losing his son.
"One of the greatest gifts a man can receive from a woman would be a son […] to have your son's life taken away from you when you've molded him to become an upstanding citizen of this country […] that's something that you can never get over," Martin said in his opening statement.
Martin went on to say that although he believes Trayvon's name has been "slandered and demonized" in the wake of his death, he will not let the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder case define who Trayvon was as a person.
"I vow to do everything in my power not to give up the fight for him, not only the fight for Trayvon but the fight for so many other black and brown boys in this country," Martin continued.
Martin then referenced the recent comments made by President Barack Obama regarding the death of Trayvon, in which the president said that "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."
Martin thanked the president for representing the African American community with those comments.
"The most influential man on this planet is weighing in from an African American perspective. To have the president of the United States come in on our situation really touched home," Martin said. "The president's comments start the conversation at every household and dinner table: what can we do as parents, as men, as fathers, as mentors to stop this from happening to your child."
Trayvon's father concluded his speech by suggesting that positives can come out of tragedy, such as the death of a son.
"What we can do tomorrow as a nation, as a people to stop someone else's child from being killed is certainly a positive," Martin said.
Tracy Martin, along with Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton, recently founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation, set up in their son's name and commissioned with helping victims of gun violence.
The foundation is to focus on advocating against "senseless crime, senseless gun violence, we're going to have mentor programs and educate our community on Florida statutes and laws," Martin said on Wednesday.
Others witnesses speaking with Martin at Wednesday's caucus included David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown University, and Kweisi Mfume, former NAACP president, congressman and Congressional Black Caucus chairman.
The purpose of the caucus, according to a press release issued by the office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, is to "educate members and their staff on issues and problems that disproportionately affect Black men and boys and to support ideas and community initiatives that improve their quality of life."
Norton (D-D.C) is a co-chair of the caucus along with Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).
Although Wednesday's caucus comes at a significant time for America and its reaction to the George Zimmerman murder verdict, the caucus was actually scheduled before the verdict was reached, and Congresswoman Norton told BET that the timing of the caucus is purely coincidental.
Congresswoman Norton added, however, that the effort to have the U.S. address the issues facing young African Americans is "right on time."
The nation has been questioning racial tensions since the verdict of George Zimmerman, the man who shot dead 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter earlier this month, after claiming he had acted in self-defense after being attacked by Martin.