Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay in The Atlantic, “Fear of a Black President,” addresses the Trayvon Martin case. In an NPR segment at the time, TNC discussed with David Carr the parallels between the Martin case and that of Emmett Till:
[W]hen you get into a debate and people are telling you that a kid like Trayvon Martin – 16, just turned 17 this year – is not a child, was not actually a child, that he was not actually a boy, you do sort of see a historical parallel. But at the same time, even going with all the complaints I lodged today, the email that David got, George Zimmerman, whatever he is, is not the equivalent of the people who – the two men who dragged Emmett Till … who beat Emmett Till, tied him to a fan and dropped him into a river. There are important distinctions about what this country is today and what it was back then. So even as we lament what we are not, you have to say that there has been some progress. There’s not enough progress to not sort of beat us down and make us depressed, but there are, I think, really, really, really important differences. You couldn’t find a jury to convict Emmett Till’s killers on the law as it was. Now, we have questions about what the law is in Florida, et cetera, but I think those are different and, frankly, much better questions that were asked in the day.