The cross and the lynching tree

I’m currently reading The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone.  It’s a powerful book that explores the connection between the cross of Jesus and the suffering of the black community caused by extra-judicial killing, or lynching.  It raises important questions about the silence of white Christians, even to this day, in the face of this practice that has more in common with what was done to Jesus than what Jesus did for us.

My son has been curious about the book, so we have talked a bit about it.  Yesterday he asked me if lynchings still happen in America.  I said, “Yes, just not in the same way.”   Case in point:  This is a letter from the mother of Trayvon Martin that is a part of a change.org petition.

On February 26, my son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked to a family member’s home from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years old.

Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community’s self appointed “neighborhood watch leader,” called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Travyon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman, who is white, still hasn’t been charged for murdering my son.

Trayvon was my hero. At the age 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that’s all gone.

When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All I know about what happened next is that my 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.

It’s been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer – saying he’s “a college grad” who took a class in criminal justice.

Please join me in calling on Norman Wolfinger, Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney, to investigate my son’s murder and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.

If you would like the sign the change.org petition initiated by Trayvon’s mom, click here.

Lynching didn’t always involve a rope and it doesn’t today.  At a basic level, lynching is the unjust killing of a person based upon their race without prosecution or legal consequences for the person or persons who did the killing.  Shooting an unarmed black teenager in the chest for looking suspicious is murder, period.  Followers of a crucified Jesus should know that best of all.

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