‘The obvious point is that this young man lost his life from an unjust situation, and it needs to be hammered home,’ Chuck D tells CNN.
By Rob Markman
Four years ago, Barack Obama made history when he became the first black president of the United States, and Young Jeezy captured the moment for hip-hop with his anthem “My President.” Fast-forward four years, the president has been re-elected for a second term, and Jeezy is prepared once again with his new single and video “We Done It Again” in support of Obama’s victory.
Jeezy’s new video, which premiered on Wednesday’s (November 7) episode of “RapFix Live,” opens with a snippet of Obama’s speech during a White House dinner, as he tells a crowd, “In my first term, I sang Al Green. In my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy.”
Jeezy sent MTV News a statement about what the new song and video mean to him: “To every ghetto In the world. In 2008 we celebrated history with ‘My President’ is black. In 2012 I want Barack to know we got his back and we ‘Done It Again.’ We don’t wait for history, we claim victory!”
In the black-and-white clip, a gleaming Rolls Royce is contrasted with shots of a neighborhood and its residents in distress, incorporating hopeful images of Obama campaign posters while Jeezy raps, “We waiting on a savior, maybe Barack.” The Atlanta rapper proceeds to touch on hot-button issues in the black community, including New Orleans‘ slow recovery, Trayvon Martin‘s tragic shooting and the current war zone in Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods.
At first, Jeezy’s lyrics seem odd against the visual of him cruising around in his Rolls Royce while the community around him is in shambles, but it all makes sense toward the end of the clip when he hands over the car keys to a family who is being forced to leave their home, likely because they can’t afford it.
Though some of the images in the video are disheartening, the message of positivity and resilience that the song promotes will surely win Obama over one more time. In 2009, Jeezy celebrated Obama’s inaugural weekend with a live performance of “My President” in D.C., where Jay-Z joined him to spit a new verse on the track, rapping, “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/ Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run/ Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly.”
“It’s just the progression. … You sat, you walked, you ran, you ran to fly,” Jay told MTV News of the song’s lyrics back in 2009. “You know, just the progression and how far we’ve come as a nation. It feels good to say that, ’cause I never had that type of feeling to say as a nation, like I was part of the American dream. And I believe a lot of people didn’t feel like a part of the American process for so long.
“Now everyone’s included in the American process this great day,” he added. “So that’s the progression and the process. Now there’s no excuses for anybody. Now you can look into a child’s eyes and say, ‘Get it together. You can be president.’ It’s not an easy thing, but it can happen. And we have evidence to the fact.”
Stick with MTV News for post-election analysis and reports from Chicago, Boston and New York. Share your voting stories by tweeting @MTVNews with the hashtags #GoVote or #IVoted!
By Carter Maness
While Mother’s Day is usually celebratory, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Florida shooting victim Trayvon Martin, is using the holiday as an opportunity to amass support for the reform, repeal and blockage of Florida-style Shoot First laws across the country with some help from Russell Simmons.
Martin’s gruesome death, which might have been avoided if there wasn’t a self-defense law in Florida that allows shooting first and asking questions later, encouraged the formation of the Second Chance on Shoot First campaign to repeal existing laws. With Shoot First laws enacted in 26 states and pending in 10 more, she is hoping there will be a re-examination of these policies.
The video first premiered on Russell Simmons‘ Global Grind and was sent to his millions of followers with a special plea to watch and sign a petition. “My friend and Trayvon Martin‘s mom, Sybrina Fulton, has created a powerful video. I urge you to watch it and to join folks all across America in sending a special Mother’s Day message to the people that need to hear it,” he wrote. “Together, we can end the pain that gun violence is bringing into too many mothers’ lives.”
For Fulton, it’s an appeal to think of the mothers who have their lives altered because of reckless violence. “I’m going to say a prayer for the mothers across America who share this unbearable pain,” she says in the clip. “Just like me, 30,000 mothers lost their children this year to senseless gun violence. Nobody can bring our babies back, but it would bring us some comfort if we can spare other mothers the pain that we feel on this Mother’s Day, and every day for the rest of our lives.”
Follow the campaign on Twitter at @SecondChance
By Gil Kaufman
George Zimmerman turned himself in to police on April 11 for the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin but he was released from jail at midnight on Monday (April 23) on $150,000 bail. Zimmerman made a swift exit from the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida in the wee hours of the morning.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder? on April11, nearly two months after he shot and killed Martin in what he claims was self-defense. Martin’s February 26 death sent shockwaves through the nation. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, saw 17-year-old Trayvon walking through his gated community in Sanford, Florida, and said he immediately grew suspicious, of the teen, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. It was the hoodie that gunman Zimmerman told police made the 17-year-old appear suspicious and in support of Martin, demonstrators have donned hoodies? as a show of solidarity.
When Zimmerman, 28, called 911, police dispatchers advised him not to pursue Martin. By the time police arrived on the scene, Martin was shot dead and Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, was not arrested or charged with a crime. Trayvon didn’t have a weapon and Zimmerman’s lawyers have said their client was adhering to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows someone who reasonably believes force is necessary to protect themselves using a weapon.
Zimmerman’s family needed to raise at least $15,000 to secure his release from jail. At a bail hearing on Friday Zimmerman apologized to Martin’s family in his first public comments on the incident. “I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” he said in a direct appeal to Martin’s family. “I thought he was a little bit younger than I was, and I did not know if he was armed or not.”
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said that his client’s apology was a response to a recent interview by Martin’s mother, who said she wanted to hear from the man who shot her son. “He didn’t want to defend himself, he didn’t want to discuss the facts of the case,” O’Mara said. “He heard the request of the family, and he wanted to respond to it.” A family friend told CNN that Martin’s parents were “completely devastated” over the judge’s decision to allow Zimmerman to post bond. Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda had argued for a higher bond total closer to $1 million, citing prior run-ins with a police officer and a woman who named Zimmerman in a domestic violence injunction.
Though O’Mara has said he is concerned about Zimmerman’s safety given the outcry in the case, no decision has been made yet on whether his client will be allowed to leave Florida as he awaits trial. Zimmerman was fitted with an electronic monitoring device before his release.
The hip-hop community has been particularly vocal in their call for justice for the teen. ?uestlove, Game?, Young Jeezy, Nas, Killer Mike and Prodigy all spoke out in protest, while rappers like Plies and Bad Boy’s Los made songs dedicated to Trayvon.
The Hip-Hop community has been rallying on behalf of Trayvon Martin for weeks and when George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder on Wednesday (April 11) several rappers weighed in. While many took to Twitter to express their opinions on the matter, MTV News also reached out to a few artists, including Bun B., Killer Mike and David Banner, who commented on Zimmerman’s arrest.
“This is only the beginning. Justice has not yet been served. 1) Zimmerman has not yet been convicted and 2) there is a systematic problem in America that needs to be addressed. The process to see Justice served has to be seen all the way through”
I am happy to see that Mr. Zimmerman has been charged however, this is only the beginning. America’s parents and the public must watch this case closely to make sure none of our children can be slain senselessly again. – Killer Mike
“We asked for justice. This is the beginning. Let’s pray the judicial system works as its supposed to.”
- Bun B
On Twitter, the hip-hop community also had plenty to say:
@questlove lol at twitter not allowing GZ‘s name a TT but “degree murder” is? come on now twitter.
@MeekMill: Da black guys in jail clapping waiting for Zimmerman 2 walk in..this week gone b real life hell for him!
@Cappadonna Be peaceful no matter the outcome peaceful kids.Knowing its impossible off top for Zimmerman to get death or life.Prepare for disappointment
George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and after weeks of protesting, Martin’s parents are relieved that he has finally been arrested. The 28-year-old Florida man turned himself in to custody on Wednesday and shortly afterwards his murder charge was announced at a press conference. Nas, 50 Cent, Young Jeezy And Bun B Address Trayvon Martin Shooting
In an interview with the Associated Press, Sybrina Fulton said that she would gave her son’s killer a chance to apologize. “I would probably give him an opportunity to apologize,” Fulton said. “I would probably ask him if there were another way that he could have settled the confrontation that he had with Trayvon, other than the way it ended, with Trayvon being shot.”
Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, had even more questions for the neighborhood watchman, telling the Associated Press he wanted to know, “Was it really worth it?”
“The question I would really like to ask him is, if he could look into Trayvon’s eyes and see how innocent he was, would he have then pulled the trigger?” Martin said. “Or would he have just let him go on home?”
Trayvon Martin Case: Questlove, Big Boi, John Legend Rally On Teen’s Behalf
Trayvon Martin Case: Questlove, Big Boi, John Legend Rally On Teen’s Behalf
Martin’s February 26 death sent shockwaves through the nation. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, saw 17-year-old Trayvon walking through his gated community in Sanford, Florida, and immediately grew suspicious of the teen, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. When Zimmerman called 911, police dispatchers advised him not to pursue Martin. By the time police arrived on the scene, Martin was shot dead and Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, was not arrested or charged with a crime. Trayvon didn’t have a weapon.
Since the shooting death, there has been public outrage. Demonstrators took to the streets, and on March 23, President Obama called for an investigation into the incident, saying, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
The hip-hop community has been particularly vocal, calling for justice for the teen. ?uestlove, Game, Young Jeezy, Nas, Killer Mike and Prodigy all spoke out in protest, while rappers like Plies and Bad Boy’s Los made songs dedicated to Trayvo
Bad Boy rapper unleashes the video for “Wit My Hoodie On” in honor of murdered Flordia teenager Trayvon Martin.”Los is just one of many rappers who’ve joined in solidarity against the senseless killing against Martin outraged that an arrest still hasn’t been made against the teen for looking “suspicious” while wearing his hoody.
It’s been more than a month since 17-year-old high school student Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by self-appointed neighborhood-watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, on February 26.
Since the case burst onto the national consciousness over the past month, there have been protests, unending questions about the facts in the incident, a national debate about the wearing of hoodies and plenty of reaction from the hip-hop community about what other issues may be beneath the surface of the shooting.
“There is a general understanding from society that the law will work when it is supposed to and, when the facts support one understanding of a crime, that the law will do what it is supposed to do to make sure everyone is vindicated in the way they should be,” said Donald F. Tibbs, associate professor of law at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law. Tibbs, who focuses on the intersection of race, law, civil rights and criminal procedure, told MTV News that one reason the case has created such an uncomfortable feeling for some is that the facts so far seem to suggest that Zimmerman shot an unarmed teen for no apparent reason and that “most people’s sense is that once you kill someone, you’re arrested by the police … [but in this case] he shot and killed someone and the police let him go. Not because of anything we know based on objective evidence, they let him go on his word that he acted in self-defense.” Witnesses have emerged who claim that Martin attacked Zimmerman on the night of the shooting, which police officials have said bolsters their decision not to arrest the shooter. However, others who claim to have seen the alleged scuffle have said Zimmerman appeared unhurt afterward and that they did not see Martin act in an aggressive manner.
If that’s all it takes — telling police that you didn’t commit a crime — then Tibbs wondered how anyone gets arrested. Police have the right to arrest someone and prosecutors the right to pursue a case, but, Tibbs said, “It never stops at the very beginning [of the process]. It has to get started before prosecutors stop it.” If Zimmerman were to eventually be charged in the case, Tibbs speculated that he could be hit with first-degree homicide or perhaps manslaughter if there were evidence he fired during the commission of an act in which he was provoked.
“People are drawn to this case for a variety of reasons,” he said. “Questions of young black men who are called suspicious for doing nothing but minding their business, police failing to do their job, the racial bias by police officers against a young black man, questions about the criminal justice system not working … people wanting to feel the system of justice is right … [and a sense] that the story Zimmerman is telling just doesn’t sound right.”
Here’s a timeline of the events in the Martin case:
February 26: Martin is found shot and killed, with several eyewitnesses telling police they heard a fight, then a cry for help and a gunshot. Zimmerman, 28, is seen standing over Martin’s body while wielding a handgun and reportedly sporting a bloody nose and a wound on the back of his head. Martin is pronounced dead at the scene, and police find no weapons on him, just a bottle of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Martin claims he killed Martin in self-defense and police do not arrest him or administer a drug or alcohol test.
March 9: Martin’s family demands the release of the 911 tapes and/or the arrest of Zimmerman. A week later, Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee said there was no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s assertion of self-defense. Police say they could not arrest the shooter because he was protected by the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law that allows Floridians to shoot someone they reasonably believe is threatening them and to stand put and use their weapon in such a situation.
March 16: Public outrage about the case begins to spread as a Change.org petition from Martin’s family asking for Zimmerman to be prosecuted gathers more than 250,000 signatures in its first few days. It currently has more than 2.2 million signatures.
March 19: Martin’s 16-year-old girlfriend tells the family attorney that she was on the phone with Trayvon when Zimmerman began following him and she heard pushing and then the phone line went silent. The U.S. Justice Department launches an investigation into the case. A day later, a Sanford PD spokesperson admits to ABC News that investigators may have overlooked a possible racist remark by Zimmerman — who has a Hispanic mother and white father — during a conversation with dispatchers in the moments before the killing of Martin, who is black.
March 21: Hundreds of people take to the streets of New York calling for justice in the Martin case during a protest dubbed the Million Hoodie March, so named because of Zimmerman’s assertion that his victim looked “suspicious” in his hooded sweatshirt. The protest was attended by Martin’s parents in their first public appearance since the shooting. Once the story began to make national headlines, members of the hip-hop community and artists including Spike Lee, Big Boi, Tichina Arnold, Wyclef Jean and Roots drummer ?uestlove began to rally their social-media followers to express outrage about the shooting. Police Chief Lee gets a “no confidence” vote from the city council on March 21.
March 22: Young Jeezy speaks to MTV News about the Martin killing, saying, “I feel very deeply as a community leader and as a product of my culture … I feel like we all got to get together and stop this, ’cause I have a son his age and I just feel like that could’ve been either of our children.” Police Chief Lee steps down temporarily from his post due to the mounting pressure over the case, and thousands rally in Sanford in an event organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton to demand Zimmerman’s arrest.
Compton rapper Game tells MTV News that he believes a deeply rooted racial bias is behind the shooting. “I think that from the beginning of mankind, we as a people have always been targeted,” he said. “For some, reason people don’t think that they need any excuse to kill us, beat us, hit us, run us over, disrespect us or anything like that … I’m far from racist. I’m very educated and intellectual and I understand how life works and how people of all colors exist under the sun, but it just seems like more than not black people are, I don’t know, there’s always some negative occurrence that goes on in our existence. This is just another reminder that stupidity still exists.”
March 23: President Obama calls for an investigation into the incident during a White House press conference. “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” the president said. That same day, 50 schools in Florida hold walkout protests, and ?uestlove goes off on Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera for comments the veteran newsman made in which he said, “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.”
March 25: Zimmerman’s friend Joe Oliver says Zimmerman “couldn’t stop crying” after the shooting and was “extremely remorseful” about it. Oliver, who is black, also said he’s never seen evidence that Zimmerman harbors any racial bias.
March 26: Florida rapper Plies releases the tribute single “We Are Trayvon Martin,” featuring the lines, “I never thought wearing no hoodie could cost you your life/ And I never thought you could just kill somebody and get out the same night.”
March 27: Reports emerge that Martin had been suspended from school for possessing a baggie with traces of marijuana before he was shot. Police confirmed that Martin had no juvenile offender record and the victim’s family lashed out at what they said was an attempt to “kill” the teen’s reputation.
March 28: Nas, Killer Mike, Prodigy and Bun B drop in for an episode of “RapFix Live,” and Bun tells host Sway, “This is just another reminder of the world that we live in. … Unfortunately, it takes incidents like this terrible tragic murder of Trayvon Martin to bring this back to America’s consciousness.” Illinois Democratic Representative Bobby Rush is escorted from the floor of the House of Representatives after pulling on a hoodie and sunglasses in honor of Martin.
March 29: Though Zimmerman originally told police that Martin knocked him down with a punch to the nose and then slammed his head repeatedly into the ground, a police surveillance tape emerges from the night Martin was shot and shows no blood or bruises on Zimmerman. His brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., said medical records will prove his brother was attacked and that his nose was broken by Martin.
March 30: Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said he overruled local police and prosecutors in ordering the release of the 911 tapes in the case in response to a request from Martin’s family.
The tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin has led a number of prominent hip-hop artists to speak out. On last week’s “RapFix Live,” Nas, Bun B, Killer Mike and Prodigy all expressed their views on the Florida teen’s death at the hands of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
The discussion around Martin, who was wearing a hoodie when he was killed, has also led to protests, televised debates and songs dedicated to young Trayvon. The latest of such singles comes from Diddy signee Los. On Sunday night, the Bad Boy mogul tweeted the link to Los’ “Wit My Hoodie On” and urged his followers to retweet it to the world.
The Baltimore MC begins the somber, violin-laced track saying, “I just came here tonight to celebrate the life of Trayvon Martin. Put your hoodie on.” Los’ track was released eight days after Plies dropped his dedication, “We Are Trayvon,” in what seems to be a growing trend.
On “Wit My Hoodie On,” Swagger Boy Los goes on to compare the Trayvon tragedy to his own troubles. He begins the first verse recalling the murder of his father 15 years ago and the effect it has had on his life. Toward the second half of the verse, Los brings it back full-circle, spitting, “I’m wrestling for this one shot/ Feeling like Trayvon on the lawn before the gunshot/ I ain’t gettin’ my up-to-no-good on/ They just wanna kill me, because I put my hood on.”
The song’s hook is an ode to the hoodie, a fashion staple and now a symbolic representation of Trayvon’s gripping death. “I ride (with my hoodie on), I hustle (with my hoodie on)/ Damn right, I represent the struggle (with my hoodie on).”
Veteran news reporter Geraldo Rivera recently said that he believed “the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.” But on Sunday night, Rivera apologized to Martin’s parents when they appeared on his Fox News show. Trayvon’s dad, Tracy Martin, accepted Rivera’s apology and took a moment to clarify why his son was actually wearing the sweatshirt.
“Your apology is accepted,” he said. “Let me just add one thing with the wearing of the hoodie. I don’t think America knows that, in fact, at the time of the incident when he initially made the call, it was raining. So Trayvon had every right to have on his hood. He was protecting himself from the rain.
“So if being suspicious, walking in the rain with your hoodie on is a crime, then I guess the world is doing something wrong.”
What do you think of Los’ “Wit My Hoodie On”? Tell us in the comments.
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the outraged public has latched on to a few symbolic items. When he was shot, young Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt on his way home from a store where he bought iced tea and a bag of Skittles. It was the hoodie that gunman George Zimmerman told police made the 17-year-old appear suspicious and in support of Martin, demonstrators have donned hoodies as a show of solidarity.
Others have even gone as far to suggest that the hood that Martin was wearing in some ways contributed to his death. During a televised Fox News broadcast veteran journalist Geraldo Rivera argued parents not to allow their black and Latino children to wear hoodies. “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” he reasoned.
“The hoodie is something that we see all over America and all over the world,” Bun B said in response on Wednesday’s episode of “RapFix Live.” “People are starting to identify this culture of people by their clothing and starting to attribute certain things by the way they dress and that’s simply not fair.”
Illinois congressman Bobby Rush was removed from the House floor after he protested Martin’s murder by wearing a hood over his head. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” he said.
Rather than focus on the article of clothing that Trayvon was wearing when he was gunned down, Mississippi rapper and producer David Banner looks at what he feels is the deeper issue. “America is showing young black men: If you don’t make us comfortable around you, we will kill you,” he told MTV News on March 29. “As much as people don’t want to admit it, that’s what this is about.”
Banner urged Martin supporters to not focus on the clothes Martin was wearing, but rather the issue at large. Hoodie or not, he said black men are often the target, citing the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant and the 1991 LAPD beating of Rodney King as examples.
Instead, Banner urges demonstrators to focus their energy to change legislation that ensures that young black men like Martin are protected from corrupt police and overzealous authority figures. “If we don’t find what that is after this is no longer a trending topic, then we just lost another child again,” he said.