Trayvon Martin was gunned down on a rainy Florida street in early 2012, but even close to three years later, the legacy of the teenager is continuing to grow.
Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who was later acquitted of the shooting. The death sparked nationwide protests and a debate over Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground Law.
Martin is far from forgotten. A number of groups have planned events to commemorate the anniversary of Martin’s death on February 26. A Peace Walk is scheduled in Miami, one that will focus not only on Martin but all gun violence suffered by African-American youth. There is also a remembrance dinner scheduled in southern Florida that is drawing state and federal representatives.
Now, with a spate of new racially-charged incidents sparking even more protests across the country, the legacy of Trayvon Martin is looming even larger than ever.
Many have connected Martin’s case to other recent high-profile killings, including the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, all killed by police.
Late last year, the mothers of all four met for an interview with CNN, with Martin’s mother saying she believes race played a key part in the confrontation that led to her son’s death.
“I think absolutely my son’s race and the color of his skin had a lot to do with why he was shot and killed,” Sybrina Fulton said in an interview with Anderson Cooper.
Fulton added that the killing of Trayvon Martin and the other young men highlight the racial problems that still exist, a problem she believes is impossible to understand for those outside the black community.
“It’s not happening to them, so they don’t quite get it… They don’t quite understand. They think that it’s a small group of African-Americans that’s complaining… The people say that all the time: ‘What are they complaining about now? What are they protesting about now?
“Until it happens to them and in their family then they’ll understand the walk. They don’t understand what we’re going through. They don’t understand the life and they don’t understand what we’re fighting against. I don’t even think the government quite gets it.”
Trayvon Martin is still being connected to new cases. This week, after the shooting deaths of three Muslim students, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes referred to it as a “Trayvon Martin moment.”
“Like the killing of Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown,” he said, “the senseless deaths of these three young people has struck such a profound nerve and mobilized so many because millions of people who look like those victims are fed up with the routine stereotyping, the marginalization in mainstream media representations and the vilification by political leaders seeking to score cheap political points.”
The legal drama surrounding Trayvon Martin has not completed either. His family is still waiting to hear the results of a federal civil rights investigation into Martin’s death.