Six years ago today, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was murdered in his own neighborhood by a white supremacist. Followed and shot to death while eating candy for simply being a black boy, Trayvon’s assassination turned the tide during as a sorrowful plea in the young Black Lives Matter movement. Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense in the shooting, noting the boy as a “suspicious person” after a string of robberies in the neighborhood. The murderer made himself judge, jury, and executioner when he fatally shot Trayvon in the chest for no reason at all. The “black lives matter” phrase turned into a call to action as Trayvon’s senseless murder brought angry and urgent protestors to the streets, demanding justice for the boy whose life was taken before he even had the chance to live. After Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in 2013, the movement grew under the hashtags #Justice4Trayvon and #BlackLivesMatter with thousands of people around the nation taking to the streets in protest of the murder and Zimmerman’s acquittal. A majority of students at his school held walkouts while online petitions for a full investigation into the shooting gained over 2.2 million signatures. News outlets covered Trayvon’s murder more than the 2012 presidential race and debates about gun control and unjust laws took place among many political figures. Instead of focusing on how his killer bragged about the murder online, many media outlets turned the blame on Trayvon, digging into his past and calling the teen a “thug”. People around the nation engaged in discussions about Trayvon, scrutinizing his social media posts, text messages, and photos taken as if they accurately represented the boy. Trayvon was a star football player, beloved son, and dear friend. He loved sports, music, and working with airplane parts. He made everyone around him laugh and he wanted to go to college in Florida one day. He should have had that opportunity. He should have been able to grow up. Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton never received justice for their son’s murder and they’ll forever remember this day as the worst of their lives. If I could take that pain away from them and help Trayvon finally rest in peace, I would. But for now, we’ll keep protesting, marching, calling on political officials to take action, and screaming “black lives matter” until they finally do.
Trayvon Martin loved working on airplanes. And now he can fly forever.