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Trayvon Martin’s murder and African sovereign rights in America

PATRICK DELICES and REGINALD MABRY | 7/29/2013, 10:19 a.m. | Updated on 7/29/2013, 10:19 a.m.
Trayvon Martin

On July 19, six days after a questionable verdict by a jury of mostly white women who found George Zimmerman not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama addressed the nation regarding this long-standing tragedy and legal travesty that simply consolidated our heteronomy in the United States.

Since our enslavement, state laws and federal civil rights laws in the United States have been unsuccessful in protecting the descendants of Africans living in America. The descendants of Africans in the United States had their sovereign rights usurped by American colonists as evident in chattel slavery. Africans living in America have never been recognized as a sovereign people because their sovereign rights were mislaid by the transatlantic slave trade. As such, we have waited too long for equal protection and justice under the law; whereas other groups have greater protection and justice under the law than us.

Similarly to the Native Americans, our land, labor, people, resources and identity as a sovereign people were usurped by American colonists. Moreover, in a similar manner to the Native Americans, land was promised to us as a recompense for slavery and as a major step to govern ourselves as a sovereign people. However, unlike us, the federal government afforded Native Americans the Marshall Trilogy, which established sovereign status and protection for them, while procuring federal civil rights laws governing our American citizenship.

From 1823 to 1832, the Marshall Trilogy was established as a federal responsibility trust for Native American sovereignty. The Marshall Trilogy procured special essential services, sovereign recognition and security for Native Americans. Based on similar grounds of the Marshall Trilogy, African descendants in America deserve comparable and expanded legal protections and guarantees—a federal responsibility trust for the protection and prosperity of our sovereign rights.

The legal precedent of such a right is set forth in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. 1 (1831). In that case, the Native Americans were legally classified as "domestic dependent nations" and their geopolitical relationship with the United States resembled that of a ward to his guardian according to 30 U.S. at 16-17. It is from this legal precedent and judicial metaphor that the doctrine of federal trust responsibility was federally established and secured.

The Supreme Court, in defining the federal trust responsibility for Native Americans, held that: "(The federal government) has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust. Its conduct, as disclosed in the acts of those who represent it in dealing with the Indians, should therefore be judged by the most exacting fiduciary standards," as evident in Seminole Nation v. United States, 316 U.S. 286, 296-97 (1941). Thus, we believe this language also applies to descendants of Africans in the United States.

A federal responsibility trust for sovereign rights is a major vehicle that will give African descendants in the United States a true path to independent power and supreme authority to govern our own people, community, state and affairs. Federal civil rights legislation simply demonstrates that we are only American by name and citizenship. However, our status (rights and duties) as American citizens are always being trumped, as evident in the Trayvon Martin verdict and our sliding socioeconomic and sociopolitical status.