Prior to nearly 8 years ago, a hoodie was just a hoodie.
But on February 26, 2012 that all changed. That was the day when Trayvon Martin was tragically killed for doing nothing more than walking down the street, wearing a hoodie and jiggling Skittles in his pocket. And what would have been his 25th birthday today (Feb. 5), reminds of this tragedy that rocked Black America.
As we know, Martin, who was unarmed, was shot to death by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sandford, Florida. And while many of us believe that Zimmerman murdered the 17-year-old, sadly a jury didn’t.
But be clear: Just because Martin’s family were robbed of justice, that doesn’t mean their son’s tragic death was in vain. Like Mike Brown’s death years later, Trayvon’s death woke up Black America. It also helped morphed the phrase “Black Lives Matter” from beyond a popular and empowering hashtag into a bonafide and influential movement.
A movement that refuses to be quiet about the injustices that Black and Latino people endure by the hands of systematic racism and police brutality. A movement that mobilized African-Americans and our allies from all walks of life, to take to the streets, create real change, and even use that power to shift the political discourse in this country. A movement that inspired Colin Kaepernick and many others to take a knee against white supremacy and racial injustice.
Seven years later, it’s obvious that this movement and its message are desperately needed. From Freddie Gray to Sandra Bland to Philando Castile to Korryn Gaines to Tamir Rice to Rekia Boyd, not a month has gone by since Martin’s death that we haven’t heard news of person of color falling victim to state and police.
It’s clear, especially living in Trump’s America, we have a lot of work and resisting to do, work that sparked from this young man’s tragic death.
So for his birthday, people from all around the world took to Twitter to honor this Trayvon, who we all lost too soon.