Updated Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. EST
Trayvon Martin would have been 20 today.
Let those words sink in and try to imagine the grief of a parent having to bury a child, especially at the hands of a reckless coward who didn’t follow police orders. Sybrina Fulton (pictured below right) and Tracy Martin (pictured below left), Trayvon’s mother and father respectively, will never again have the chance to hug their boy as he continues to grow into manhood. The shock of Trayvon’s death may have disappeared from much of the national conversation, but for many, the sting of the teenager’s loss is very much present as it should be.
George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon on February 26th of 2012, just a mere few weeks after his 17th birthday. The small town of Sanford in Florida is now forever etched in the minds of many nationwide – all due to a confrontation that didn’t have to turn fatal.
Every photo shown of Trayvon grips the heart. He was a handsome, baby-faced boy who hadn’t even grown a hint of a mustache yet. Photos of him and his father together showcase the connection the two shared. The most iconic photo, however, is of Travyon in his hoodie (pictured above). It was that image that became synonymous with the case, and soon after, a movement.
That movement, now known as the #BlackLivesMatter movement, was launched in response to the acquittal of Zimmerman in July 2013. Sparked as a hashtag in its early stages, #BlackLivesMatter is one of the most prominent voices on the front lines advocating for justice in the wake of the senseless murders of Trayvon, Jordan Davis, Ramarley Graham, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, and Michael “Mike” Brown, among too many others to name.
The campaign continues to seek justice for the families of Garner and Brown, the latest killings of unarmed black people to galvanize the nation. Yet just like Zimmerman, the men responsible for erasing these Black lives are allowed freedom while the loved ones of the slain have to carry the burden of mourning. However, the marches and rallies continue in Ferguson, Mo., New York and other cities nationwide thus proving Trayvon and the others did not die in vain.
Looking at the photo above, you don’t see a violent criminal. You see nothing more than a boy with his entire life ahead of him. Conceivably, he’d be in college right now and worried about making class and what to wear on the weekend. That is what was taken from his family, and taken from all of us who support the ascension of Black youth.
Tragically, Trayvon’s precious life stopped there, his face frozen with all the wayward hopes and dreams and petty pursuits of teenagers the world over. Each time that photo is shown, it should serve as a reminder that Trayvon didn’t have to die when he still had everything in the world to live for.
His killer, the aforementioned coward, George Zimmerman, walks freely about; keeping himself in the news for violent acts against both his wife and later his girlfriend. Even more sickening, Zimmerman has engaged himself in foolhardy schemes to make money, such as selling amateur art and wanting to participate in celebrity boxing matches. And just a mere couple of weeks ago, Zimmerman was in the news again for a violent confrontation with his girlfriend, although the charges were mysteriously dropped.
Zimmerman deserves to be rotting in jail, just as Trayvon deserved to be living his life. Seeing Trayvon’s killer smiling and reaping any benefit from his undesirable infamy is another injustice that the Martin and Fulton family shouldn’t have to suffer.
Perhaps Zimmerman will get his just due one day, but for now, we should honor Trayvon by celebrating his life.
Rest in peace, young brother Trayvon. We still continue to seek justice in your name.
Watch Trayvon supporters celebrate his birthday here:
RELATED: NewsOne’s Coverage of Trayvon Martin