Day 26 - Last Words: Trayvon Martin

Day 26 - Last Words: Trayvon Martin

"What are you following me for?"

Trayvon Martin, 1995-2012

On the evening of February 26, 2012, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin and his father were visiting his father’s fiancé at her townhouse in Sanford, Florida. Martin walked to a convenience store to purchase Skittles and an AriZona juice drink. 

As he walked home, a neighborhood watch member named George Zimmerman called the Sanford Police to report suspicious behavior. In reply to the police dispatcher's question, "Are you following him?" Zimmerman responds, "Yes." The dispatcher says, "OK, we don't need you to do that." Zimmerman continued pursuing Martin and there was an altercation, during which Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. According to Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin just before he was fatally shot, his last known words, addressed to Zimmerman, were, "What are you following me for?" 

In April 2012 Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. On July 13, 2013, he was found not guilty. In May 2016, Zimmerman sold the gun he used to kill Martin for $250,000 on the auction website United Gun Group. In April 2013, Trayvon Martin's parents settled a wrongful-death claim against the homeowners association of the Sanford subdivision. The homeowners association did not admit any wrongdoing or liability.

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, CNN, Washington Post

“In this country – this is one of the things that it means to be an American. It is one of the great dangers of being an American. – In this country there has always been something not to think about. And what that was, was me. Sometimes called Sambo. Sometimes called Uncle Tom. Sometimes a rapist. Sometimes a saint. These are your inventions, not mine. The effort the republic has expended in not thinking about me has weakened its grasp of reality to a very sinister extent.”
— James Baldwin, “100 Years of Freedom,” 1963

What George Zimemerman thought Trayvon Martin was, he was not. Zimmerman’s grasp of reality weakened, in Baldwin’s words, “to a sinister extent.” He thought a child wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles was suspicious. He continued his pursuit, thinking he knew better than the police dispatcher who told him explicitly not to follow Martin. His grasp of reality was so weak that he shot and killed a child of God. 

God, help all of us to see what it means to be black in the United States. Help all of us to see the danger of living in a world where men with guns and their false impressions can so easily take life from your children.

To the people who wear hoodies, send your angels to protect and keep them.

To the people who carry guns, send your angels to muzzle them in the name of peace.

To the people who watch from afar, send your angels to open their eyes, that they might see just how close to their door these deaths really are. Amen.
Day 27 - First Steps: Repay

Day 27 - First Steps: Repay

Day 25 - First Steps: Welcome

Day 25 - First Steps: Welcome