by Staff Writer for Global Grind Staff
The art of self-sacrifice is the reason why Jasmine Rand is such an important voice for our generation. This strong young woman is an attorney with Parks & Crump in Tallahassee, Florida, the firm that currently represents the family of Trayvon Martin, and heads the firm’s Civil Rights Department.
Putting the rights of others before herself is why she is committed to helping the fight for justice in the name of Trayvon Martin.
The University of Georgia graduate, who earned a B.A. degree in both African American Studies and Political Science, while also earning a minor in Spanish, has focused her career on fighting for the voiceless when it comes to issues of civil rights.
Jasmine talked with GlobalGrind about the ongoing circumstances surrounding the case, Trayvon’s parents and how she sees it all playing out.
GlobalGrind: You had a very interesting journey that has now put you in the the national spotlight. How did you end up here?
Jasmine Rand: I was born in Vermont and have five generations from the same small town in Plainfield, Vermont. I graduated from The University of Georgia and earned my degree in African American studies degree and political science.
I was a political actions chairwoman of the NAACP at University of Georgia, while practicing human trafficking with the Southern Poverty Law Center prior to my position at Parks and Crump. Here at Parks and Crump Law Offices, I am head of the civil rights department.
In your bio, you mention the influence of your grandparents. Can you tell how they helped shape the woman you are today?
They’re the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing and one of the lessons they’ve taught me was the art of self-sacrifice, giving up a piece of yourself for others.
My grandparents sacrificed financially to ensure that I got an education and made it through college. I was their primary focus and because of their sacrifice, I was the first person in my family able to obtain a college degree.
Now in turn, many of the civil rights and human rights cases that I work on are second nature to me because that’s the foundation I come from.
I remember those important values from people that are willing to do anything for anybody. That’s the same kind of mantra that I come into my practice with, giving of myself to others for different human rights and civil rights causes.
How did you first hear about Trayvon Martin’s case?
I was sitting with Benjamin Crump at lunch waiting for a plane and we got a call from Trayvon Martin’s family.
What can you discuss about the content of that call?
Can’t discuss a lot, except to say that, we didn’t even believe we had the facts right. We thought that there was probably some mistake with what we were hearing because it was just so egregious, we didn’t feel as though what we were being told could be accurate.
How are Trayvon’s parents holding up?
The parents still have a lot of sadness and they’re very strong, it’s not an easy issue to deal with. I’m an attorney so I’m trained at some level to handle these types of situations and handle this type of pressure.
But Trayvon’s parents are regular people who didn’t ask for any of this to happen. And Sybrina has been a pillar of faith to me because when I get angry at the circumstances, all I have to do is look at her as she stays calm.
For example, when we were in the courtroom listening to Zimmerman testify, I looked at her sitting there calm and collected; she leads me by her demeanor. I look to her and a lot of times, it shouldn’t be this way, but she’s a source of comfort to me.
What were your thoughts when you saw George Zimmerman take the stand and apologize to Trayvon’s parents?
The only thing going through my mind was Sybrina and Tracy and how they must be feeling at such a hurtful time to exploit something as personal as an apology.
If he was truly sorry he would have made it on a personal level and I think that it would have been welcomed by the parents. But to do it for the sake of the media, I think was a second slap in the face for both of them.
How do you see the outcome, what do you think will happen?
Optimistically Zimmerman will be convicted of second-degree murder charges, but I’ve also seen our justice system at work over the years.
I don’t want to be negative, but the overall outcome at this point is a bit worrisome to me because I’ve seen how some of these other cases have come down, some cases where you have the most evidence in the world sometimes don’t end with a conviction.
There isn’t a trial date set yet and some are speculating that it will take place either a year from now or even as early as the fall, what do you think?
I don’t believe there is a set date but even if there is, it’s not particularly significant because trials get moved all the time. An average trial gets moved two, three, four times. I would hope there’s going to be a conviction within the next year.
Has any other case impacted your life as much as Trayvon’s?
The case that probably had the biggest impact on me wasn’t even brought to trial. There was a young man named Brendan Walden who I met when I first became an attorney. Brenden was 16 at the time when he was dragged, beaten and called the “N-Word” because he was dating a white girl. So it was basically a case of small town politics and the girl’s father didn’t like it.
The girl’s father contacted the police, had the police rough him up while calling him all kinds of really horrible things, beat the crap out of him in the middle of the woods and then threw him in jail and didn’t tell his mother where he was.
His mother was actually starting to think he had drowned; gone fishing and he had drowned. So, she started calling all around and eventually she called the jail and the jail told her he was there. She wasn’t allowed to go see him and she called me because she had heard from his friends, who had told her what happened, so she called me to go over to the jail.
That’s one of the clearest memories I have of the first time going to go see him in jail. He was cold, he was shaking and he was terrified. He told me “Is this the end for me, is this it, is my life over? Am I ever going to graduate?”
For me, that was a real critical moment in my legal career, because you have to have pretty severe injuries to justify taking a case against the police department, as the laws are so bad in the state of Florida.
The laws really limit access to the courts in a lot of those circumstances and I knew that actually taking a case against the police department, there wasn’t a lot that I could do.
So I developed a correspondent school for him and I would send him assignments in the mail and he would mail them back after he completed them and I would grade them.
And after we were able to get him out of jail, he and his mother sent me a message on Facebook saying justice was going to come regardless and it made an impact in his life. He is now going to college and is considering pursuing a career in law and civil rights.
And he was biracial, so I sent him a copy of Barack Obama’s “Dreams Of My Father” and I told him to compare the ways he was like President Obama and that was one of his assignments.
But that had a huge impact on me because it made me realize that my position as an attorney is more than just the law but being an advocate in someone’s life. I don’t just view myself as just a lawyer, I view myself as trying to make positive changes in people’s lives. Humanity is very creative, so as a civil rights attorney I have to use my ingenuity and be just as creative in ways to help people; it’s not always through the law.
What measures can you see being taken to re-appeal the “Stand Your Ground” law? Do you think it will happen within the year?
No, not in the next year or so, but hopefully in the near future. We need to have an understanding of what stand your ground really means. We keep saying “stand your ground,” but stand your ground means something different in every state where there’s a law.
The first thing we need to do is start dissecting these laws, you have to know what you’re fighting until you can really fight it.
So until we understand that throughout the nation, it’s going to be hard for us to effectively combat the law.
Jasmine is a fearless voice for our generation and she will continue to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. You can reach her on Twitter @JasmineEsquire.
Read more: http://globalgrind.com/news/interview-trayvon-martin-family-attorney-jasmine-rand#ixzz1uO9LiRlQ