On July 13th, 2013, Alicia Garza posted on her Facebook page a love letter to black people after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Garza decided to write a “love letter to black people” with the idea that inspired the first #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
She writes “black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.” Her friend Patrisse Marie Cullors- Brignac types a response, and reposts “ declaration; black bodies bro no longer be sacrificed for the rest of the world’s enlightenment. I am done. Trayvon you are loved infinitely. #blacklivesmatter
Another friend Opal Tometi reached out and offered assistance creating a digital platform and thus Black Lives Matter was created. It is a movement and a foundation that pledges to eradicate white supremacy and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities, as stated on their website.
We asked teens around the country their thoughts on Black Lives Matter and how they feel knowing it was because of Trayvon Martin’s untimely death. Their words and photos are shared through out this article.
Mackenzie Elliot age 17, states “When Alicia Garza made her facebook post after Trayvon’s Death introducing what we now know of as #BlackLivesMatter it opened the eyes of many. it showed that Trayvon’s tragic death was more than just a murder, he was murdered beecause of the color of his skin and thats an ongoing issue in America. It’s almost as if we are an endangered species, raising awareness so that our lives can be prolonged.”
The hashtag has turned into an international movement that campaigns against systematic racism and violence towards black people. Trayvon Martin was murdered by Zimmerman who profiled him, called 911 to report a suspicious intruder in the neighborhood, and despite being told to wait, chased him and tried to detain the teen firing his weapon as the scuffled. Trayvon,a high school junior had just turned 17 years old on February 5th, he was visiting his father. He died from the gunshot wound on February 26, 2012.
His death and the non guilty verdict sparked an entire movement about systematic racism, biased criminal justice system and the debate at large of America’s history of racism; leaving many with unanswered question of freedom, equality, and justice, for who?
“Alicia Garza’s response was very powerful and inspirational to me and many others. “ Trey, 16 shares memories of the trial and Trayvon.
“At the time I was 9 years old and it was the first time I felt a pure, undying hatred for a person. I felt afraid for my family and anger towards people like George Zimmerman, but once I saw just how many people were willing to fight against this injustice, I felt hopeful and determined; my focus shifted from the darker side of the situation to the light. Trayvon Martin’s death sparked a movement that allowed people of color to come together and find belonging. In a way, it created an army that gave the oppressed a place to have hope and combat injustice.”
Trayvon was shot and killed on February 26th 2012 while returning from the near by 7-Eleven with Skittles, Arizona ice tea, earphones, a cigarette lighter and about $40 in cash. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer was patrolling the townhouse community of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida. He claims he shot Trayvon in self defense after a physical altercation. Officers arrived on the scene to find the teen was unresponsive and Zimmerman with a bloody nose and cuts on the back of his head. There were no eyewitnesses and he wasn’t arrested as he claimed self defense.
Trayvon’s parents demanded there be a throughout investigation as their son had no prior arrests or criminal background. Protests and rallies were held in cities all over the nation. In New York City, March 21, 2013 hundreds of people gathered for the Million Hoodie March, demanding justice for Martin. Six weeks later, April 11th 2012, Zimmerman was arrested and then later tried for second-degree murder.
It took 3 weeks for the jury, composed of 6 women to reach a verdict, on July 12th 2012 Zimmerman was found not guilty on all counts. He maintained he shot Martin in self defense after being knocked to the ground and having his head banged in the ground. “We’re ecstatic with the results,” defense attorney for Zimmerman, Mark O’Mara stated after the verdict. “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense.”
His parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton were not at the verdict reading, his father tweeted “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.” They founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which is dedicated to helping parents and families that have lost children to gun violence.
“I feel that the Black Lives Matter Movement is very powerful, but the cries of people around the world for justice, especially black people, should have been heard centuries ago and not just now. Justice is not being served, and we are getting a LITTLE bit of justice because deaths and crimes are being filmed on camera.
The case of Trayvon Martin was very sad because he passed away at such a young age. Trayvon Martin passed away because he looked ‘suspicious’ I feel that George Zimmerman should be behind bars right now. You do the crime, you do the time.” In addition, the fact that George Zimmerman is suing the family of Trayvon Martin for $100 million is disgusting and shows that he had no sympathy for the sweet teenager that just bought skittles.” Ameenha Lee is a 17 year old journalist, author and model from NJ.
I had the urge to write this piece after seeing lots of “all lives matter” comments on social media and in the news. I thought to myself that these individuals need to know why we promote and say Black Lives Matter. I pondered did people forget this was started in response to the death of a teenager, going to the store for treats, who was racially profiled and shot with a bag of Skittles in his pocket? After the verdict President Barack Obama state’s “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon.”
I have a son, he’s 11 years old, his birthday is on February 6th, a day after Trayvon’s he also loves Skittles and drinks Arizona ice tea, Mucho Mango, which I often discourage him from purchasing. He is allowed to go to the store by himself. I pray he will always make his way back home.
It’s crazy to think that in 2020 with so much going on in the world, high rent, 30 million unemployed and massive cuts to education and healthcare; I also have to worry about the color of my child’s skin because it will make him a target. That anyone would have negative thoughts or presumptions about a person because of their heritage.
When a person says “Black Lives Matter” does it mean that others don’t, the focus is on Black lives because our judicial system is biased. The American experience is haunted by centuries of systematic racial abuse and inequality. When you hear Black Lives Matter, think of Trayvon Martin, he is the reason we proclaim this.
Written by : Shauna Flowers Founding Editor
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