Then reality set in.
Over the past two weeks, our country has gone from a refreshing state of collective compassion to our sadly familiar pattern of racial and political tribalism.
This is evidenced by the latest poll from the Pew Research Center, which shows that 56 percent of Republicans believe that the media have offered "too much" coverage of the shooting, as opposed to only 25 percent of Democrats. Also, 43 percent of white Americans said that there has been too much Trayvon coverage as opposed to just 16 percent of blacks.
Even more disturbing is the pattern of victim-blaming that has emerged in the past couple of weeks. The first shot was fired by celebrity journalist Geraldo Rivera, who said that we must hold Martin partially responsible for his death, given his decision to wear a "hoodie" on the night of the shooting.
According to him, the hoodie represents "thug fashion," and is an invitation to violence and suspicion. Although Rivera eventually apologized for the ridiculous and insensitive remark, it nonetheless opened the floodgates for the "blame the victim" discourse that suddenly has become central to the conversation.
More recently, many have also started to pooh-pooh our collective outrage at the killing by pointing to black-on-black violence around the country.
Of course, such criticisms are largely unfounded. I have yet to meet a civil-rights leader, politician or pundit who doesn't publicly bemoan, criticize and work to fight black-on-black crime.
I don't know anyone who isn't saddened by the fact that most of the country's Trayvon Martins, especially here in Philadelphia, are killed by other Trayvon Martins.
The fact that the past five years have produced more black-male think tanks, anti-violence programs and legislative bills (even flawed ones) is evidence that the world is very much concerned with everyday forms of violence in the black community. Contrary to the dominant narrative, black people care very much about black-on-black violence.
So what's really going on here?
The truth is that we live in a nation that desperately wants to deny its most painful truths. We find no problem with 12 months of Casey Anthony media coverage but can't stand three weeks of Trayvon Martin coverage because the latter forces us to come to terms with white supremacy and police misconduct.
We would rather criminalize a hoodie than deal with the fact that our system criminalizes black and brown people. We'd rather concoct fantastic stories of Trayvon as a lawless aggressor so that we don't have to explain why his confessed killer continues to walk the streets.
And we'd rather turn everyone's attention to black-on-black violence so that we don't have to deal with the fact that black lives remain unwelcome in public space and disposable in the public imagination.
Daily News editor-at-large Marc Lamont Hill is an associate professor of education at Columbia University and host of "Our World With Black Enterprise," which airs at 6 a.m. Sundays on TV-One. Contact him at MLH@marclamonthill.com.