The young man’s 2012 death from being shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, brought national unrest and the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Florida activists began a fight against the state’s Stand Your Ground Law, and the movement that drew the attention of Gillum. The Tallahassee mayor, 39, took a stand against the controversial law during a debate among Democratic candidates in June.
“George Zimmerman was able to interpret the very presence of Trayvon Martin to be a threat,” Gillum said, calling for the state to suspend the rule. “And because of Stand Your Ground laws, which have no place in civilized society, was able to engage him, snuff out his life and get away with it.”
Gillum watched activist group Dream Defenders take over the Florida state capitol building with a month-long sit-in in Tallahassee after Martin’s death. Activists have demanded that Gov. Rick Scott and the state legislature repeal the Stand Your Ground law. Gillum proved inspirational to the Dream Defenders: He participated in a demonstration calling for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to reverse the state’s higher education affirmative action policies while attending the historically Black Florida A&M University in 2000.
It was the Dream Defenders who came out in full force for Gillum ahead of Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary, CityLab reported. They visited homes, registered people to vote and encouraged them to support the mayor at the polls. Young and Black voters overwhelmingly supported Gillum, a candidate who took a stand for Martin.
Florida residents know the road from Martin’s death to Gillum’s victory has been a tough one to travel, but Gillum’s win has created a renewed hope in the state and was a victory for residents, activism and keeping Martin’s legacy alive.