The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

Author discusses the history of racism in area where Florida teen Trayvon Martin was killed

by The Madeleine Brand Show

Civil rights leaders and residents of the city of Sanford, Florida attend to a town hall meeting to discuss the death of a 17-year-old unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain on March 20, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. The Justice Department and the FBI opened an investigation into the death of the black teenager, and the local state attorney announced that he had asked a grand jury to investigate. Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

The fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida is spurring protests across the country. Thursday night, there will be a demonstration in Los Angeles. The previous night, Trayvon's parents joined hundreds of demonstrators in New York to demand justice for their son.

In Florida, city commissioners passed a vote of "no confidence" in Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. Residents say the chief should arrest George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain who shot Martin. Zimmerman claims he was acting in self-defense, but 911 tapes may indicate otherwise. Sanford's police chief has defended his investigation to a local newspaper, saying it was "based on the facts and circumstances, not color."

For some context on racial relations in Central Florida, Madeleine speaks with Isabel Wilkerson — a former Chicago bureau chief for The New York Times and the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize. She's also the author of the book, "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration." Central Florida, where the Martin murder occurred, was one of the toughest places for blacks during the civil rights struggle — even compared to areas like Mississippi. Florida was the third state to secede from the Union before the Civil War - before states more strongly associated with the Confederacy like Alabama and Georgia.

Wilkerson's book documents the massive migration of black Americans from the south to other parts of the country during the 20th century.


Isabel Wilkerson is the author of "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration." She's also a former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to Wilkerson's book as the "The Warms of Other Suns." Thanks to our commenters for pointing out the error.

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