The Ballad of Trayvon Martin

from by Sam Steffen

/

lyrics

Come mothers and fathers, come sisters and brothers
Lend an ear to the stories they’re telling
Of the neighborhood watchman in the Florida town
Who shot and killed Trayvon Martin

O, the time it was night and the evening was cold
And the month it was late February
Trayvon Martin at only seventeen years old
Too young for an obituary

On his way back home from a convenience store
Through the yards of his neighbors was walkin
George Zimmerman spied him while making his rounds
And made a call down to the station

“HQ, HQ,” mister Zimmerman said,
“This is nightwatchman Zimmerman calling,
I have just spied a suspicious black male
In our gated community walking—

“How shall I proceed, shall I make an arrest
Shall I follow and see where he takes me?
Could this be the man whom we’ve been looking for
Who committed those robberies lately?”

“Well this is HQ,” the headquarters said,
“To nightwatchman Zimmerman calling,
Do not pursue—repeat—do not pursue,
For you haven’t the grounds to suspect him.”

“Ten four, ten four,” mister Zimmerman said,
But he pulled up to roll slowly by him,
And when the young man saw the slow patrol car
He took off a fearfully runnin

“No grounds? No grounds?” mister Zimmerman thought
“If there’s no grounds then why is he running?”
And quick as a flash he leapt out of his car
Bringing his handgun with him

Well over a fence and through the back yards
The armed nightwatchman chased Trayvon Martin
A distance in excess of one hundred yards
Til he finally cornered and caught him

O down, O down to the ground they did fall
The ground where they both had been standing
Trayvon to fight for his life gainst the man
The man for to somehow subdue him

“Submit, submit!” mister Zimmerman cried
“Submit and throw down your weapon!”
“I will not submit!” Trayvon Martin replied,
“For I’m unarmed and I haven’t done nothing!”

And as the two fought on the ground in the dark
A gunshot rang out clear as crystal
Trayvon Martin had been shot through the chest
At close range by Zimmerman’s pistol

Come mothers and fathers, come sisters and brothers
Lend an ear to the stories they’re telling
Of the neighborhood watchman in the Florida town
Who shot and killed Trayvon Martin

For a day and a night the body went without name
As he was when his mother had birthed him
Until a call came from his father at home
Saying that his son had been missing

O down, o down to the morgue he was called
To see if this was his son who’d been missing
“O, God, it’s him!” his bereaved father cried,
“That’s the body of Trayvon Martin,”

“My son, my son, O Trayvon, my son—”
His poor mother cried, nearly wild,
“He wasn’t no symbol, didn’t die for no cause,
He was only my baby, my child,

“And what did he do, for what was he killed,
For wearing dark clothes and a hoodie?
Is it just me or does it still feel
Like it’s a crime to be black in this country?”

Well charges were pressed and a trial was set
And a jury was formed all at random
And of the twelve who were chosen to serve,
There wasn’t one black face among them

“The defendant, George Zimmerman,” the prosecution declared,
“He is getting away here with murder,
How can you defend a defender of peace
Who says shoot first and ask questions later?”

“Yes, that was my gun, I fired that round,”
George Zimmerman finally admitted
But despite all the facts in the end he was found
Not guilty and was fully acquitted

The defense lawyers claimed he had just stood his ground
And no evidence showed the contrary
Trayvon Martin by then for more than a year
Neath six feet of ground had lain buried

And for all you who say that here justice was done,
Here is something for you to consider
When a nightwatchman shoots and unarmed black man to death
They do not define it as murder

Come judges, come kings, come you counselors on down
Who maintain the law’s fair and equal
Come look what they done in a florida town
And say it would be the same for all people

credits

from Ain't It a Pity?, released July 31, 2016
Dana Gaynor, electric guitar; Sam Steffen, guitar, vocals.

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Sam Steffen Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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