Trayvon Martin

Artwork by Dayja Owens

Trayvon Benjamin Martin (February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012) was a 17-year-old African-American from Miami Gardens, Florida, who was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida, by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Hispanic American. Martin had accompanied his father to visit his father's fiancée at her townhouse at The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford. On the evening of February 26, Martin was walking back to the fiancée's house from a nearby convenience store. Zimmerman, a member of the community watch, saw Martin and reported him to the Sanford Police as suspicious. Several minutes later, an altercation happened and Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in the chest.

Zimmerman was injured during the altercation with Martin. He said he shot Martin in self-defense[1] and was not charged at the time. The police said there was no evidence to refute his claim of self-defense, and Florida's stand-your-ground law prohibited them from arresting or charging him. After national media focused on the incident, Zimmerman was eventually charged and tried, but a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and manslaughter in July 2013.[2]

Following Martin's death, rallies, marches, and protests were held across the United States. In March 2012, hundreds of students at his high school held a walkout in support of him. An online petition calling for a full investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman garnered 2.2 million signatures. Also in March, the media coverage surrounding Martin's death became the first story of 2012 to be featured more than the presidential race, which was underway at the time. A national debate about racial profiling and stand-your-ground laws ensued. The governor of Florida appointed a task force to examine the state's self-defense laws. Martin's life was scrutinized by the media and bloggers. The name Trayvon was tweeted more than two million times in the 30 days following the shooting.[3][4][5][6][7][8] More than 1,000 people attended the viewing of his remains the day before his funeral, which was held on March 3 in Miami. He was buried in Dade-Memorial Park (North), in Miami. A memorial was dedicated to Martin at the Goldsboro Westside Historical Museum, a Black history museum in Sanford, in July 2013.[9][10][11][12][13][14]