Activist community

Community honors Trayvon Martin on what would have been his 27th birthday

On February 5, 2012, Trayvon Benjamin Martin celebrated his 17th birthday in his hometown of Miami Gardens. Three weeks later, he was shot after leaving a 7-Eleven in Sanford, becoming the tragic face of a significant movement.

This weekend, hundreds of allies and community members gathered at Ives Estate Park in Miami-Dade to celebrate Trayvon on what would have been his 27th birthday.

As the pandemic continues, you can count on WLRN to keep you up to date with local news and information. Your support is what keeps WLRN strong. Please become a member today. Make a donation now. Thank you.

The event, dubbed Peace Walk and Peace Talk, began its 10th annual celebration with a series of collaborators working with the Trayvon Martin Foundation who hosted the event. Many black business owners set up booths, comedians performed, and two marching bands from historically black Florida colleges and universities performed.

Miami resident and Guyana native Susan Kennedy also had a booth. She is the founder of the Balls 4 Life foundation and ambassador for the Trayvon Martin Foundation. She takes donations of unused bullets and turns them into jewelry, mostly bracelets. She then uses the proceeds to support families affected by gun violence.

Kennedy started the foundation in 2016 in response to the murder of a 6-year-old child King Carter In Miami. Since then, she has collected more than 20,000 balls.

“Our boys are dying. Nobody seems to care. There’s not enough outrage for our kids,” she continued. “So Bullets 4 Life is a voice. We’re becoming a voice for the voiceless.

Chire Regans of Miami, aka VantaBlack, is a visual artist and activist. She displayed white charcoal portraits of black people killed because of gun violence. The paintings are part of a series called The Memorial Portrait Project, also initiated in 2016 after the death of King Carter.

His subjects included George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin among many others. VantaBlack says she chose to portray victims against black paper to create a stark contrast that engages the viewer.

“I deal with the way the light hits these faces because I want to bring their faces back to life.”

Despite remorse for the series’ innate “ongoing” nature, Black says she’ll continue to work in that vein. “I am a member of the community and I have to use my gift to respond to what is happening in the community.”

Portrait of Trayvon Martin by VantaBlack

While many attendants are from Miami, a number of people have come from outside Florida. George Kemp came from Houston. He lost his son George Kemp Jr., in 2013 after a fatal shooting. Since then, Kemp has worked to support other families affected by gun violence.

He said he was dedicated to raising awareness to end gun violence and was motivated by his son.

“I know he is [Kemp Jr.] watch over me saying “Dad, keep going”. Keep walking. I am by your side, I am your shadow.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava took the stage to speak. “We cannot have policies that allow this [violence].” The mayor continued, “We won’t stop until we rid this country of hate and prejudice.

Actor and recording artist Jamie Foxx warmed up the mic for Trayvon’s family. Joined on stage by his two teenage daughters, he shared his thoughts on the future of black history.

“It is important that we do not give up any part of our history or an opportunity to celebrate our history,” he continued, “no other community gives up the opportunity to celebrate history. So we must continue to celebrate our history and not forget what happened to us in history.

Shortly after, Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, took the stage with Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Trayvon’s older brother, Jahavaris Fulton Jr.

“What I’m watching that day is actually the work of Trayvon Martin,” Foxx said. “We are the ones who promise him that we will not stop fighting. And we will continue to fight not just for Trayvon, but for your children, for your family members, for your sons, for your daughters.

Sybrina Fulton, urged participants to remain resilient. “We have to trust God. We can’t give up,” she continued, “we’ve come too far to give up now. So I want to say, “Happy birthday to Trayvon.”

IMG-1716.JPG

The attendant wears a shirt commemorating the Black Lives Matter movement

The day was a celebration of many lives, as the phrase “we are Trayvon Martin” was a sentiment shared by many in attendance. The focus on the state of social justice reform was echoed by most of the event’s sponsors. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Moms demand actionand dream defenders were among the organizations present to inspire community members to take action.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation continues to fight gun violence and uplift inner-city communities by providing scholarships and community outreach programs to youth.