Ten years ago, on February 26th, a young Black man—17-year-old Trayvon Martin—was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida while innocently walking back to his dad’s girlfriend’s home. During that walk, he was spotted by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman believed Martin was acting suspiciously. The two got into an altercation and Trayvon—who was unarmed—was killed. He was 17. (Zimmerman was eventually acquitted of second-degree murder in 2013.)
It was a shot heard around the world—sparking the Black Lives Matter movement and igniting a new era in civil rights that continues to grow today. It also made activists out of Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.
Since Trayvon’s death, both parents have been dedicated to transforming tragedy into social change. They work to make a difference through the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
“#BlackLivesMatter was more than the signatory hashtag that became a love letter to Black folks” Fulton wrote in an opinion piece for USA Today. “It reminded us that despite the oppressive systems we face and the repeated injustices we are dealt through criminal legal systems, we still matter. This affirmation challenged millions of people all around the world to stand up and lift not only Trayvon’s name but also say the names of so many who have been killed.”
“His story is written. Trayvon is in the history books. … Just knowing that he galvanized the country and that he’s etched in the fabric of America, it means a lot,” said Martin at a rally in Miami on Feb. 5. “I think that, you know, he’s brought awareness. Certainly, he’s opened up the eyes of many people with injustices that occur in pockets that we don’t really know about.”
Last year, the pair published a book about their son—Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin. It shares the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement that awoke a nation’s conscience. They are both also speakers for APB, sharing their powerful message with everyone from colleges and legal professionals to community and family organizations, and all other proponents of social justice.
“But we still got a long way to go,” Martin added at the rally. “And it’s going to take … more than one community to make change. It’s going to take a diversified community. It’s going to take all of us to work together.”