Young Leaders Stand Their Ground on Racial Profiling

Students and young adults explore ways to move forward and make change in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

Posted: 09/18/2013 06:01 PM EDT

As if to ensure that slain teenager Trayvon Martin's death will not have been in vain, young African-Americans from around the country are demonstrating a level of leadership that is reminiscent of the young adults who played pivotal roles in the civil rights movement.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference opened with a panel discussion about race, equality, justice and the path forward that featured high school and college students and advocates like Tiffany Loftin from the group Dream Defenders.

They will never be able to justify Martin's shooting death at the hands of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of the crime. But, they agreed, the best way to reconcile the tragedy is to stand their own ground on racial profiling and other similar acts of racial discrimination.

One of the key messages that the Dream Defenders hoped to send during their month-long occupation of the Florida state capital, is such behavior will no longer be tolerated and more important that African-Americans and other people of color do not have to accept it.

"We tried to accomplish a couple of things, including recognition on this issue that we're not going to take it anymore. Once you mess with the young people, you're messing with the future of this country and that's what we won't allow you to do," Loftin explained. "When we start killing our youth, who are in college or high school, or walking down the street innocently, it's messing with the future of what this country's going to look like."

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nevada), a co-host of the CBCF forum, told BET.com that he's pleased that "out of a horrific tragedy people at the local, state and federal level will not rest until [Martin's] life and the legacy is fulfilled."

Horsford is preparing to introduce legislation in Congress to have a comprehensive review of law enforcement practices as it pertains to racial profiling.

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(Photo: Mickey Adair/Getty Images)

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