Happy Birthday Trayvon Martin! Much More Than A Hashtag

Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin.

We say his name again, Trayvon Martin.

Twenty-two years ago today, Sybrina Fulton gave birth to Trayvon Martin. The handsome, young boy born in Miami, Florida, who attended both Norland Middle School and Highland Oaks Middle School, in north Miami-Dade County, Florida. He attended Miami Carol City High School in Miami Gardens for his freshman and sophomore years…before being shot to death.

On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed race Hispanic man, was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily living and where the shooting took place. Zimmerman shot Martin, who was unarmed.

Zimmerman was charged with Martin’s murder but acquitted at trial on self-defense grounds. The incident was reviewed by the Department of Justice for potential civil rights violations, but no additional charges were filed, citing insufficient evidence.

Following Martin’s death, rallies, marches and protests were held across the nation. In March 2012, hundreds of students at his high school held a walkout in support of him. An online petition calling for a full investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman garnered 2.2 million signatures. Also in March, the media coverage surrounding Martin’s death became the first story of 2012 to be featured more than the presidential race, which was underway at the time. A national debate about racial profiling and stand your ground laws ensued, and the governor of Florida appointed a task force to examine the state’s self-defense laws.

So where does leave us?

I still remember getting a call about the verdict. It was on the weekend (I think that was planned, but that’s a side note). When I heard it, it was a reminder, a wake-up call some may say. Like many other Black folks, I didn’t want Zimmerman to be acquitted, but it was expected. The anger, the rage, but not disbelief.

We’ve seen this so many times before, so what can we do?

I’m just one man, but I don’t want any innocent death to go in vain. So here’s what I’ve been striving to do…