Seems odd to think before this day one year ago, you were just a teenager hanging out at your dad’s house in Sanford, FL and no one except for your family and friends even knew your name. Heck, most people had never even heard of Sanford, FL for that matter. It’s funny how one small decision can change the outcome of your entire life. You decided that you should go to the store around the corner from your house, to grab the usual teenage fare; Skittles and an iced tea. Sounds perfectly normal and should have been a routine trip both to the store and back home with no incidents to report. But that’s not what happened, and what has ensued has been a blur of activity on every side of your story.
That trip to the store took your life on a trajectory that no kid should have to fathom. You were by all definitions of the word stalked and then confronted by George Zimmerman, a local self-appointed vigilante of justice in his own mind. He claimed that he found you to be “suspicious” because you were wearing a hoodie and walking around in his neighborhood. And even though the police on the phone with him told him,” not to pursue you, and to quit following you”, he continued. He approached you, and there was a struggle. You screamed for help and he “allegedly” shot and killed you. He claimed you were trying to kill him with his own gun so he had to defend himself and used the so called “Stand Your Ground” law in order to protect himself from prosecution.
Zimmerman told stories about his side of the situation that were seemingly unbelievable to the average citizen. People got news of of what he claimed happened and attempted to sort out the facts. Trayvon, your name spread like wildfire in the following days. People were talking about you over all forms of social media, on TV, radio and around water coolers all over the country.
Everyone from 50 Cent, Chaka Khan, Mos Def to The Miami Heat Team and even The President Of The United States claimed you as their own family member. Kids walked out of school to protest your killer not being brought to justice, social media became a buzz with profile pictures with hoodie clad individuals. And it was something to behold. Your life being taken awakened a beast hungry for justice that had not been seen in decades. People wanted answers and they were not going to stop until they had them.
You became the modern day Emmett Till for not only the United States but the entire globe. However, unlike Emmett Till, you had something on your side that he did not have access to during his struggle, you had technology. This technology allowed you to be on the phone as you walked home one year ago today thus allowing your girlfriend to not only talk to you in real time about what was happening but for her to bear witness to those events to police. It allowed others to call in to 911 as a result of hearing your cries for help and for those calls to be recorded, and it also allowed for experts to analyze those recordings so that they could say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was in fact your screams for help everyone heard on those tapes and not Zimmerman’s as he and his family claimed. Technology allowed for those calls Zimmerman made to be recorded as well, so people heard the police tell him to return to his car. It gave the public the incite into his arrest and showed him getting out of the car without cuffs, and with his head and face not looking as battered and bruised as people felt it should have been given his side of the story.
But it also did something else. It gave us your parents and little brother. We got to hear stories of who you were and what you meant to them. Because of your brave mother and father you were not just the cute boy in the hoodie anymore. You were Trayvon. And getting justice for you became that much more of an importance to all who were touched by your story.
Since all of this took place one year ago, your alleged killer is out on bail awaiting trial. And the world waits with baited breath to see what will happen to him. Your killer is no longer trying to use the “Stand Your Ground” defense that upset so many at the onset of your drama. Zimmerman has been publicly shunned for all of his changing stories and antics. But regardless of the outcome Trayvon, no one will allow the loss of you to go unnoticed. You will be in history books, people will talk about where they were when they heard your story and what they thought should happen. Because one year ago you decided to run to the store really quick for some Skittles and iced tea, a world was shaken to its core.
It’s been one year, but your loss will be felt forever.
Yasin Bey f/ dead prez, “Made You Die”
Jasiri X, “Trayvon”
An Open Letter To Trayvon Martin: Where Are We One Year Later? was originally published on theurbandaily.com