Sundown Towns and Trayvon Martin

The more I think about the Trayvon Martin tragedy, the more I think about how darkness plays into this.

Trayvon Martin made a mistake. No, it was not that he turned around and said something to George Zimmerman. The mistake Trayvon made was to walk down the street after dark. Not only did he walk down the street after dark, he walked down the street in a modern-day “sundown town.”

What makes modern-day sundown towns different from the days of yesteryear is that there are no signs telling you that you are not welcome after dark; you only know after something has happened to you.

WEB DuBois, the person who has talked about race in ways that are still relevant 100+ years later, wrote in “The Souls of Black Folk”, “Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question…’How does it feel to be a problem?’ ”

The not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman gives part of an answer. How does it feel to be a problem? It feels like there is a target on the backs of every young (and not-so-young) black person. It feels like no sidewalk is safe to walk down. It feels like the legal system has given sanction to the return of sundown towns.

It feels like Trayvon Martin was not the first, nor will he be the last.


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