The shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin took place five years in Sanford, Fla., igniting a flurry of activism and discussion on race matters in America. The tragic shooting at the hands of volunteer night watchman George Zimmerman and his 2013 acquittal gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement, along with a renewed focus on civil rights overall.
Martin was visiting his father, Tracy Martin, in a quiet townhouse development in the Florida town. On his way back from a store to buy drinks and snacks, Martin was encountered by night watchman Zimmerman and racially profiled. Zimmerman was in contact with local police, but ignored their warning to keep his distance. Details of what occurred that fateful night have been oft-discussed, but after an alleged scuffle, Zimmerman shot the teen dead.
Media attention went nationwide, then global. Martin’s divorced parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, became the face of the families who’d lost their children due to racial profiling or police brutality. Protests were held around the nation. Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial and his subsequent acquittal inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the summer of 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi founded BLM and the movement grew in the wake of the shooting death of Ferguson teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. The BLM’s focus on incidents in where police and law authorities have shot and killed young Black men and women has made them both celebrated and vilified depending on what side of the debate one stands.
Coupled with the changing of the White House administration from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump, the matters of race and law enforcement continue to be hot ticket items of discussion given the racist and incendiary language that grew in number during Trump’s campaign run.
Along with BLM, youth activism as a whole has grown positively with social media and technology serving as living hub of movement and mobilization.