By now, the well-known black & white photo of Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie has become etched in the collective conscious of Black America over the past 10 years.
We’re not sure if it’s the grainy quality, the intense look in his eyes or simply the fact that many of us have all taken one very similar on our laptops, the image contains an innocence that’s eerily relatable — it’s a pretty good shot too if you want to get technical. Kudos to Tray for the symmetry in the background!
Unfortunately, the only feeling most people get when they look at it now is sadness and an immense sense of loss given the nature of what infamously happened to the young Black boy in the photo.
That fateful night on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida has brought up so many questions in the time since then. Why did Trayvon Martin have to go out for Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea at that particular time? Then again, why not? What made him look so suspicious to his murderer — is a hooded sweatshirt really that menacing? Of course, the biggest question his death brought on the world has been a rather simple one: why?
Here’s a quick rundown of the fateful facts for those who need a brief understanding of what occurred on this date 10 years ago, via CNN:
” [Trayvon] Martin was walking back to the home of his father’s fiancée after buying a snack from a nearby 7-Eleven when he encountered Zimmerman, who called 911 to report a ‘suspicious person’ in the neighborhood.
[George] Zimmerman was told not to get out of his SUV or approach the person, but he disregarded the instructions and followed Martin, who was unarmed. An altercation took place and Martin was fatally shot.
Zimmerman was charged with murder in Martin’s death but he was acquitted at trial after claiming self-defense. The gunshot came from Zimmerman’s handgun and the bullet went into the teen’s left chest and lodged there.”
The trial itself proved to be heartbreaking on so many levels, with Zimmerman at times even seen smiling or finding a moment of humor in the midst of his murder trial. For Travon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the legal proceedings weren’t as jovial.
While the sad truth is that Trayvon Martin didn’t get the true justice he deserved — imagine your killer getting off just to turn around and sue your parents for $100 million? — one thing that can be said is that his death wasn’t completely in vain. In addition to inspiring the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a non-profit started by Sybrina and Tracy to honor their son and provide support for families that’ve also lost a child to gun violence, a decades-worth of activism and protesting has emerged over the years in hopes of making sure Trayvon’s legacy as a martyr for the movement never goes unnoticed.
As we remember a teenage boy who had only turned 17 exactly three weeks prior to his death, and should very well be enjoying the life of a freshly 27-year-old Black man today, it’s with heavy hearts that we say rest in eternal peace, Trayvon Martin.
You’ll never be forgotten.
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