CINCINNATI - Just days after the visceral outrage erupted over the not guilty verdict in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, Attorney General Eric Holder told the NAACP of a conversation he had with his 15-year-old son.
“This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy,” Eric Holder told the group. “I am his father and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world he must still confront. This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways."
A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman on July 13 in the February 2012 death of Martin, which many considered racially motivated. Martin was black. Zimmerman is a mixed-race Hispanic.
And less than a week after that verdict, President Barack Obama made the case even more personal:
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama said. “And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
Obama stopped short of calling for a national dialogue on race and instead encouraged Americans to have “soul-searching” conversations in homes, churches and in the workplace. He challenged Americans to be honest and “wring as much bias’ out of themselves as possible.
WCPO Digital invited several local black leaders and their sons to discuss those father-son conversations and the issues in light of the verdict.
Joining in the frank hour-long roundtable conversation, which was recorded Thursday, July 18, was the Rev. Damon Lynch III and his son, Damon Lynch IV, 29, Hamilton City Councilman Archie Johnson and his son, Tyler, 19, and Steve Hightower, CEO of Hightowers Petroleum along with his son, Stephen, 33.
WCPO Digital Reporter Kareem Elgazzar, who is of Egyptian descent, moderated the conversation, which is available here in its entirety. It has not been edited.
Videography: Special Projects photographer Greg Singleton and 9 On Your Side photographer Lanny Brannock