Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems celebrated its 10th anniversary Thursday evening with a keynote address by Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, titled "Trayvon Martin: Racial Profiling and the Urgent Need to Heal America."
Jealous said too often children of color recite the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning at school and are then unfairly targeted by "stop and frisk" policies of police later in the day. "If we have a duty…if we have a responsibility as citizens, as patriots, as parents, it is to build a nation that empowers our children's dreams and does not simply break their collective hearts when they realize that none of us yet live in one nation—let alone one with liberty and justice for all."
Jealous used historic examples to show how racial profiling has led law enforcement in the wrong direction, as when the D.C. sniper was thought to be a lone white man, but instead a black man and boy did the shooting. Their car had been stopped nine times but never searched because they didn't fit the racial profile.
Jealous said ending the discrimination of racial profiling requires only the will of the police chief, the sheriff, the FBI, the Attorney General, and people treated fairly will more often cooperate with law enforcement to solve crimes.
The NAACP will hold a silent march to end racial profiling on Father's Day in New York City, where Jealous said hundreds of thousands of innocent people are humiliated by the police every year.