Trayvon Martin would have been celebrating his 29th birthday this week and his passing still resonates with so many Black Americans.
Trayvon Martin never asked to be the face of a movement; he never asked to be a martyr. But, his untimely death has had a lasting impact on our discussions about systemic racism and gun violence. Scholarships were created in his name, laws were scrutinized in his honor and documentaries were created to tell his story. Trayvon Martin’s legacy still lives on through the many who work hard to keep his name alive. This starts with his mother, Sybrina Fulton, who also did not ask to become the mother of a movement.
She recently took to social media to keep his name in the minds of all his supporters by posting a birthday message to her late son.
“Happy Heavenly Birthday to my Sun/Sonshine just know I do this all for you,” wrote Fulton. “You will forever be a part of my heart & even the death of you has not separated my LOVE for you, Mommy.”
The family also participated in the 12th annual Trayvon Martin Peace Walk and Talk last weekend in Miami Gardens to commemorate his life and promote peace and dialogue in his memory.
It’s not just Trayvon Martin’s family that is working diligently to keep his legacy alive.
Filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, is releasing a new film called Origin, which, according to Business Insider, is based on Isabel Wilkerson’s bestselling 2020 nonfiction book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The film, which will tackle themes centered around the social hierarchy of racism in America, will open with a scene that begins on the last night of Trayvon Martin’s life in 2012.
DuVernay told Business Insider that she decided to start the film this way to humanize Martin in a way that films hadn’t in the past.
“It opens on him having a very carefree conversation with his homegirl on the phone, and going in to buy candy, and being very deliberate with counting out change for the cashier, and defending himself against the sprinkles happening outside in the rain by putting up his hoodie,” DuVernay told BI. “You don’t see anything that happens to him until another 20 minutes in the film.”
She continued, “By speaking to what was shown, you humanize him. That was the goal, and he deserves that.”
Twelve years after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, Stand Your Ground laws continue to be a point of contention among Martin’s supporters.
In 2022, the Northwest Florida Daily News published a report about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law’s enduring nature despite ongoing disparities in the application of the defense.
The January 2022 essay by Kami Chavis for the Duke Center for Firearms Law observed that in Florida, in more than half of the state’s Stand Your Ground cases, the shooter could have deescalated but didn’t. Stand Your Ground laws differ from traditional self-defense in part because the shooter does not have to avoid confrontation.
“At the same time, Black defendants accused of crimes do not enjoy the same protections under these laws as similarly situated white defendants,” read the essay. (Read the full essay here).
Trayvon Martin’s birthday is a day to celebrate his life and also a day to remember his name. It’s up to us to make sure his legacy lives on and actual change is made in his honor.
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