Al Sharpton would like to see Trayvon Martin’s hoodie reside one day at the National Museum of African American History and Culture now under construction on the Mall and expected to open in 2015.
The museum’s director, Lonnie Bunch, has assembled other pieces with legal themes. He acquired a guard tower from Louisiana’s notorious Angola State Penitentiary and the handcuffs used to restrain renowned African American scholar and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in an episode that sparked a national debate about race and led to a “beer summit” with Obama aimed at cooling passions.
“Martin is this generation’s Emmett Till,” Sharpton says.
He calls the unarmed teenager’s death by a bullet that first pierced his hoodie, and then pierced his heart, the first civil rights flash point of the 21st century. And his hoodie is central to that distinction, an item of clothing that Sharpton says was used to profile Martin as a criminal. “The hoodie now represents an image of an urban street kid that either embraces or engages in street thug life,” he said. “I think it’s unfair.”
Martin’s hoodie, Bunch said, represents a unique opportunity to further the discussion about race in America.
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