On Twitter, a popular meme stating Trayvon Martin was an honor student with a GPA of 3.7 has been circulating relentlessly — but was the slain teen really any of the things claimed in the viral image?
In full, the “Trayvon Martin was an honor student” meme paints an image of a teen headed for greatness, and it reads:
Trayvon Martin … Was an honor student with a 3.7 GPA … Was accepted into college on a full ride … Was a volunteer of over 600 service hours … Was a devoted member of his church … Was a loyal friend and a loving son … Was an innocent boy.
The “Trayvon Martin was an honor student” meme continues:
“But black skin, Skittles, and a hoodie deemed him a ‘threat to the community’ RETWEET to spread Trayvon’s REAL story RETWEET for justice R.I.P.”
The origin of the viral Trayvon Martin image is unclear, but the first verifiable tweet came on June 27 including the image and a comment that Martin was “going to make it.” The “make it” bit is strange, given he seemed to live a fairly middle-class American lifestyle and did not appear to be battling great odds in his life to pursue his interests or career path.
The first tweet read:
R.I.P. Trayvon Martin. He was going to make it ! pic.twitter.com/OO7E7nex7d
— bitchimjuice (@_2LiveeTarik) June 27, 2013
So, first — was Trayvon Martin an honor student with a 3.7 GPA? School records for Martin have not been released to the media, and we are not sure specifically what his GPA was, nor whether he had achieved honor student status. That the claim cannot be verified does not make it untrue, but the only hint we have on record about Martin’s academic performance comes via his English teacher, Michelle Kypriss, of Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Miami.
Martin was, the Orlando Sentinel paraphrases, by Kypriss’ account, “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” Kypriss herself said:
He was extremely creative … He just loved building things. He really was intrigued by how things worked.
Much has been made of the fact that Martin was suspended at the time of his murder, but Kypriss also said that the teen had been sanctioned not for misbehavior, but for lateness — hardly and indicator he was a raging juvenile delinquent:
“Trayvon was not a violent or dangerous child. He was not known for misbehaving … He was suspended because he was late too many times.”
Supporters of George Zimmerman also frequently state that Trayvon Martin was 6’2″, but autopsy records show he stood a tall but not towering 5’11″. The claim came to issue again this morning at trial, but it is a matter of record that Martin was not a hulking brute:
Trayvon Martin was 5′ 11″ and 158 lbs when he was killed.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) July 5, 2013
As for having a “full ride” to college, the claim of Martin’s height and stature seem to overall illustrate a greater lack of understanding of the teen’s true life stage when he was killed. While Martin was 17 when he died, he had just had a birthday. Martin was, in all likelihood, too young to have even begun to visit (much less apply to and be accepted by) colleges, and had probably not yet started that process.
The other points are even less checkable, and largely opinion based. Whether Martin was a loved or loving child is certainly not in dispute, and no one who knew the teen during his short life has spoken a cross word about him since his death.
Rachel Jeantel, the teen who had been speaking with Martin on the phone at the time of the murder, spoke after her testimony to say Trayvon was “one of the few guys that never made fun of [Jeantel], about the way [she] dressed, about the way [she] talked, about [her] hair, about [her] complexion… about [her] weight.”
So, was Trayvon Martin an honor student with a 3.7 GPA, a full scholarship, and 600 service hours? The question likely is, does it matter? By all accounts, Martin was a decent student and pleasant child, but even a poor to mediocre student (all evidence points to the contrary) deserves to walk home without getting shot to death.