On the night of February 26, 2012, 17-year old Trayvon Martin, a hoodie-wearing high school junior, was walking through a neighborhood in Sanford, Florida when a night watchman, George Zimmerman confronted him. Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed teen, claiming self-defense. After a controversial trial, Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter. His defense was Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

Trayvon Martin was described as a loving kid, who saved his father from a burning apartment at age 9. Although he faced the social struggles of many contemporary teens, he hoped to attend college and study aviation. When Zimmerman was not initially arrested, 2.2 million signatures were gathered to petition for an aggressive trial and conviction.

Intense media coverage fueled the ongoing debate about “Stand Your Ground” laws, which are in effect not only in Sanford, Florida, but in some variation in forty-six states. The law states that person has “no duty to retreat” when their home or personal space has been violated.

On March 21, 2012, The Million Hoodie March protest brought thousands to New York City. On July 2013, when President Obama publicly stated: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” it seemed an acknowledgment to some that no matter how much Black men have achieved, they are still viewed through a lens of racism.

During the Zimmerman trial, Trayvon’s social media posts, including his tweets and Facebook posts, were admitted to “prove” that he had violent tendencies. The presiding Judge, Debra Nelson, not only ruled in favor of the defense, but also ruled that Martin’s school records could also be reviewed. Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, who were divorced, came together to  generate awareness, lead protests and help other families experiencing similar tragedies heal.

They continue to make appearances and speak on behalf of their son’s legacy and have dedicated many hours to speaking out against gun violence in America. After the not-guilty verdict in the Sanford, FL courts, African-American civil rights leaders, the national media, parents, teachers and students also spoke out about the case.

The Zimmerman trial was compared to that of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the murderers of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. Both men were acquitted and never served time for their crime.

Since the trial, George Zimmerman has been in and out of the courtroom, charged with two incidents of domestic violence and a charge of aggravated assault and criminal mischief. Zimmerman’s girlfriend later recanted her story and asked police to drop the charges. A proposed “celebrity” boxing match between Zimmerman and potentially, the rapper DMX, was cancelled after a public outcry. He remains a free man.

5 thoughts on “Little Known Black History Fact: Trayvon Martin Shooting Anniversary

  1. I applaud Trayvon’s parents for keeping his legacy alive and helping others who have lost loved ones to senseless violence. It’s good to see information that blatantly contradicts all the lies about this kids from Zimmerman’s lawyer and his defenders as their rationale for why he was murdered. The fact that this man has been in trouble since his acquittal, in addition to his history of violence that includes assaulting police officers, is a clear indication of just who was guilty of being violent on 02-26-12. That’s on top of the many complaints about his harassment of black men and boys for no reason at all as neighborhood watch.

  2. VBucGreen on said:

    Our Black Youths life is in a critical state. Trayvon Martin was on trial for having the nerve to walk in a neighborhood where George Zimmerman didn’t think he belonged ,instead of G.Z. for killing an unharmed teenager.

  3. From the bottom of my heart, if the Nine Eleven tragedy is a nightmare to my memory, the ‘’Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin-Trail’’ is still a smack to my feelings. Not only as a parent but above all as a citizen…

  4. Gail Campbell on said:

    The Little Known Black History Fact today featuring Trayvon Martin was so tastefully done. I teach high school at an urban school and would love to share the piece along with the music that was played on the radio. How do I go about getting this information?

    Thank you and keep on doing the good work that you all do…….Gail Campbell (Cincinnati, OH)

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