Two years ago today, a 17-year-old boy named Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida.
Since that fateful encounter, the entire world has become more familiar with his story. As we wistfully remember the events of today, we are all reminded that many of our nation’s scars surrounding Trayvon’s killing have yet to fully heal. Many will recall that Trayvon was unarmed and had committed no crime to speak of before being shot and losing his life in a confrontation which he did not initiate.
Equally as important to remember is before that day, he was a bright-eyed teenager full of hopes and dreams, and bristling with the limitless potential of infinite possibilities for his life. Possibilities that are, sadly, no more. When the verdict announcing the acquittal of his assailant was read last July, I recall the myriad emotions that I myself wrestled with. The only thing more difficult than sorting through my own feelings of disappointment, frustration, and confusion in that moment, was struggling mightily to find the words to comfort the Martin family as they were forced to acceBept such a tremendous blow.
In the months that followed, everyone from the president to members of Congress, celebrities, and the like has weighed in on the Zimmerman trial, and tried to make sense of a verdict which still does not seem to reconcile with what we believe are notions of justice, fairness, and right. It has proven a challenging process, but our journey presses on.
If there is a single positive to take from Trayvon’s legacy, it is the remarkable strength with which his parents, Tracy and Sybrina, have carried forth his memory. They have both shown unspeakable courage and incredible dignity in pushing past their grief to inspire a nation to reconsider our priorities.
Their messaging about the need for sensible gun legislation and the importance of repealing stand your ground self-defense laws speaks not simply to just Floridians, or only to blacks, but to all Americans.
While many across the nation have been consumed with understandable anger surrounding the trial and the verdict, Tracy and Sybrina have channeled this disappointment into positive energy which should motivate us all. They are both amazing realizations that what happened has bigger implications than just Trayvon.
There is power in understanding the virtual anonymity that Trayvon enjoyed before his death two years ago. That power is that Trayvon could have been any of our children. Understanding this gives his legacy all the more important meaning. While he is no longer with us, his life, and what this case represents, can never be forgotten. Instead, it should serve as a continued charge to us all to do our best to fix those things which allowed this to happen.
We are all Trayvon and today, we speak his name as a reminder that true healing will not come without committing to continue the fight against stand your ground and then honoring that commitment. His legacy deserves that, and so much more.
Today, and every day, we remember you, Trayvon Martin.
Benjamin Crump, Esq. is a partner at Parks & Crump, LLC and the civil attorney for the Martin Family. Follow him on Twitter @attorneycrump
Charles F. Coleman Jr., Esq. is a former Brooklyn, NY prosecutor and federal civil rights trial attorney. Follow him on Twitter @CFColemanJr
To learn more about the life and legacy of Trayvon Martin, or to donate to the Trayvon Martin Foundation, visit www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org.