The Trayvon Martin case doesn't involve a white-Bronco car chase, an NFL legend and a pretty blonde – just a black, unarmed teenage boy in a hoodie and a neighborhood-watch captain with a gun named George Zimmerman.
But the second-degree-murder case against Zimmerman – who says he killed Trayvon in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., last February out of self-defense – has the potential to be just as meaningful as the O.J. Simpson trial when it comes to race and the justice system.
Charles Ogletree, director and founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, told The Root that the "distinctive qualities" of the case – which centers around the issues of racial profiling, gun violence and self-defense laws – make it particularly relevant. "I will even go so far as to say that this will be the trial of the century that will say a lot about the court system of the 21st century," he said.
Former South African leader Nelson Mandela remained in intensive care Monday, two days after he was hospitalized with a recurring lung infection.
The increasingly frail Mandela was rushed to a hospital in Pretoria on Saturday. Later in the day, the South African president's office said the 94-year-old former leader was in a "serious but stable condition."
He was breathing on his own own and his wife was by his side, the office said at the time.
In an interview with the New York Times' Charles M. Blow that led the columnist to characterize her as "a tower of grace and a well of good will, a woman who misses her son desperately and is trying to make the best of an awful situation, the kind who perseveres through faith and is in search of forgiveness and peace," Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, spoke about preparing for Monday, when George Zimmerman will go on trial for killing her son.
The piece is a poignant reminder that Trayvon, commonly referred to as "an unarmed Florida teen," was also someone's son – and that someone has a lot at stake when it comes to what could be the most divisive American criminal case in decades.
On why she's collecting the things people give her in tribute to Trayvon:
The basic math points to the problem.
African Americans in Tennessee make up 17 percent of the population but 46 percent of the marijuana-possession arrests.
That's according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which says a new report shows wide racial disparities in marijuana arrest rates nationwide.
Getting arrested for marijuana possession cost 31-year-old Nick Smith of Austin, Texas his driver's license. For the past three years, he's had to ride the bus to work.
It takes him 45 minutes to get there. Driving would take 15.
Recently, Smith got an occupational license that lets him drive to work. It cost him $250 and a court appearance to get it.
Cory Booker's long-awaited move to the national stage has just gotten a bit harder.
In the wake of the death of longtime New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced on Tuesday his state will hold a special election in October to tap a new senator, with each party holding primaries to pick their candidates in August.
Now, Booker will have to run in two elections instead of one: this October's contest and then another one next year for the full six-year term. But more importantly, in a blue state where the winner of the Democratic primary will be a heavy favorite to be elected both in October 2013 and November 2014, Booker could be forced into an intense intra-party contest.
Erika Harold, who won the 2003 Miss America pageant, announced Tuesday she's mounting a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois.
She's the second former holder of the Miss America crown to publicly eye a spot on Capitol Hill – in May, the 2000 winner Heather French Henry said she was considering jumping into the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, which could see her pitted against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Making her announcement in a video Tuesday, Harold said she was "blessed to have had some incredible opportunities," including her year-long tenure as Miss America, along with her degree from Harvard Law School, which her website says she financed thanks to scholarships from her pageant win.