Black History Month – Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Benjamin Martin (February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012) was a 17-year-old Black teen from Miami Gardens, Florida. His life became famous in his death that brought many issues to public interest, including neighborhood watch, stand your ground law, racial profiling, and police investigations. Trayvon’s death brought attention to the justice system and cultural diversity.
Trayvon was born in Miami, Florida. At the time he was killed, he was a junior at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School. Trayvon is the son of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin who divorced in 1999. On February 26, 2012, Trayvon was visiting his father who was at his fiancee’s townhouse at the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida. That evening, Trayvon walked to a convenience store and purchased candy and juice. On his walk back, George Zimmerman saw him and called the Sanford Police reporting a suspicious person. According to an ear witness who was on the phone with Trayvon, after noticing that he was being closely and consistently followed by a man in a truck, Trayvon ran. The man in the truck was George Zimmerman who left his vehicle and followed Trayvon. Subsequently, Zimmerman shot Trayvon in the heart, killing him.
At the time of the shooting, Sybrina Fulton was a program coordinator for the Miami Dade Housing Authority, and Tracy was a truck driver. Trayvon’s older brother, Jahvaris, was 21 years old at the time of Trayvon’s death. He was attending Florida International University majoring in information technology. In 2014, Jahvaris earned his degree.
When Trayvon was 9 years old, he saved his father’s life by pulling him from a fire that had burned Tracy’s legs. Trayvon enjoyed sports and was mechanically talented. In the summer of 2009, Trayvon enrolled in “Experience Aviation,” a 7-week program in Opalocka, Florida where he was introduced to aviation. During that time, the program was ran by Barrington Irving, the youngest person to ever fly solo around the world. Irving said that Trayvon was polite and enjoyed flying and had an interest in football. The following summer, Trayvon volunteered, helping out new students in the aviation program. According to Sybrina and Tracy, Trayvon hoped to attend the University of Miami or Florida A&M University.
Trayvon had a trademark of wearing a hoodie and headphones. He listened to music and also had a headset for his cell phone. On February 26, 2012 when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon, Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and a telephone ear-bud.
George Zimmerman was not arrested, leading to rallies, marches, and protests across the United States and other countries. On March 8, Kevin Cunningham, a social media coordinator who had read about Martin’s death, created a petition on Change.org which became the largest in the website’s history. It gained 2.2 million signatures.
Media coverage surrounding Trayvon’s death was greater than that of the 2012 presidential race. The Miami Herald reported that in the 30 days following the shooting, the name “Trayvon” was tweeted more than two million times.
Trayvon’s life and death has inspired many artists, including music, theater, painting and poetry.
Trayvon’s body is buried in Dade-Memorial Park in Miami. A memorial dedicated to Trayvon is located at the Goldsboro Westside Historical Museum, which is a Black History Museum in Sanford.