When Barack Obama addressed the “Trayvon Martin ruling” Friday, he did more than offer his “thought and prayers” to the family of Martin, applaud them for their “incredible grace and dignity,” and narrate a history of racial surveillance that often leaves African Americans frustrated and even afraid. The president did more than acknowledge that the democratic judicial system had done its work, urge demonstrations to be peaceful, and call for close evaluations of “stand your ground” laws.
Obama took a moment where the nation was viciously debating its most cherished values through the death of a child and cast a vision for a better future through other children.
When "the tumult and the shouting dies" and the votes are counted on November 4, we shall first want to know who won the presidential election. The choice before the American people is not, in Dean Francis B. Sayre's notorious phrase, a sterile one; on the contrary, it is a crucial one.
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