Sometimes it takes one spark to start a flame, and sometimes it takes a tragedy.
Walking home from the convenience store, with a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea, on a rainy February evening, Trayvon Martin was followed, shot and killed in a matter of minutes. The shooter, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a watchman on duty, had just murdered a 17-year-old boy in cold blood.
After being put on trial, he was later acquitted and found not guilty of murder or manslaughter.
The acquittal caused an uproar and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter started to appear all over social media. A civil rights movement was born. People from all over the world were protesting against the legal system and the police, outraged by the injustice.
In a matter of weeks following his death, Trayvon’s name had been spoken by President Barack Obama, honoured by professional athletes and discussed all over the news and social media.
“When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,”
said President Barack Obama.
The injustice didn’t stop there. More black lives were taken by authority figures even after the tragic event, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile… Black people killings were still appearing too regularly on the front pages of newspapers.
Rest in Power is the devastating story of Trayvon’s life and death and the aftermath. Narrated by both his parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the book depicts the details of the tragedy; losing their child, the hostility of the legal system and the police, and how they continue to fight for justice, not only for their son, but all who met a similar tragic and unjust end.
In 2012, they set up the ‘Trayvon Martin Foundation’, an organization aimed at ending gun violence and helping and mentoring families that have suffered tragedy.
In an interview with The Guardian, Tracy Martin spoke out about racism.
“As a parent and an African American man, I lost hope and faith in our justice system on the day the killer of our son was acquitted,” says Martin. “So our fight now is to make sure there are no more Trayvon Martins across this country. We feel strongly that the laws that pertain to African Americans are different to the laws applying to other individuals. With all these other killings and police brutalities, I feel as though a systematic racism is plaguing this country and we have to take the blindfolds off. Racism is alive and well in America.”
After five years of grieving and coming to terms with the tragedy, Fulton and Martin are turning their grief and pain into power, leading the protests and trying to make children feel safe again.
#RestInPower is a heart-breaking call to action, a voice for the voiceless, and a safe haven to the frightened.
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin is published by Jacaranda Books Art Music Ltd, £12.99