Trayvon Martin Should Have Turned 21 Today

Today is Feb. 5, what should have been Trayvon Martin’s 21st birthday. Like many young men who turn 21, Martin might have seen fit to celebrate the milestone at a local watering hole. Maybe Martin would have shared a beer with his father and brother. Maybe he would have spent the night reflecting on what he has learned in college so far with good friends while contemplating his future.

Sadly, Trayvon Martin can’t have that celebration. In 2012, at the age of 17, Martin was shot dead near his home by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. Wielding a handgun and a desire for confrontation, Zimmerman accosted Martin while he was walking home from a convenience store — moments later, a young life was cut short.

Even with nearly four years between those tragic events and the present, it is difficult to make sense of why Martin is not with us today and why the man who ended his life remains unpunished. And while we will likely never find a true resolution to the injustice that befell the Martin family, Trayvon’s death helped spark a serious social movement intent on calling out gun violence and black oppression.

So while the nation may know of Martin, to honor his memory it is important to realize his death is, sadly, not a wholly unique story. Too frequently are young lives, often those within the black community, truncated in the name of white fear or a sense of gun privilege.

In 2013, Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old black woman driving through a neighborhood in Dearborn Heights, Mich., was slain after her car broke down in the early morning hours on Nov. 2. Apparently seeking help, McBride chose to knock on the door of a nearby home. The resident, Theodore Wafer, claiming he was fearing for his life, shot McBride to death through his screen door. McBride would never celebrate her 21st birthday.

Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old teen, was shot to death by Michael Dunn in late 2012 in Florida. Dunn, believing he had Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law to back him up — as it did for George Zimmerman, who was acquitted for Martin’s death — says he felt threatened by an SUV filled with young teens. Originally, Dunn confronted the teens over their loud music, insisting they turn it down. When they declined, Dunn pulled his legally concealed handgun out and fired nearly a dozen shots into the SUV. Davis was fatally wounded, becoming another young black teen who would not celebrate his graduation to drinking age.

These are but a few of the many stories of a young person of color being gunned down under stunning and senseless circumstances. As the Black Lives Matter moment has highlighted, this phenomenon isn’t limited to gun toting citizens — there’s also a problem with how law enforcement deals with minorities in the United States. In just one recent case, the family of a black Chicago 17-year-old teen, Christian Green, is calling for a federal probe into his death. An officer apparently shot Green in the back multiple times, suggesting he was fleeing, not brandishing a weapon as originally claimed. Because of this, Green will also have to forego his 21st birthday.

Here’s to Trayvon. Here’s to Renisha, to Jordan, to Christian and the many others who deserve to celebrate their entry into young adulthood. Though it came at a heavy cost to you and your families, these losses have helped raise the national consciousness and may prompt changes that will saves lives in the future.

Photo Credit: jcenteno89 / Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah H3 years ago

Trayvon Martin would still be alive if he had not attacked Zimmerman!

Chris Ringgold
Chris Ringgold3 years ago

To answer Peggy B.'s question, I hope this series of unfortunate events (with young black lives) being shot down end as soon as possible. As a black dude who is not that much older than these people were when they died, I've been very blessed not to have been shot down (or otherwise treated cruel) by a police officer or a white person based (primarily) on my race.

Jenny Sejansky
Jenny Sejansky3 years ago

The last part of my previous quote is from Freddy's post. Not to be confused with my comments! Thanks!

Jenny Sejansky
Jenny Sejansky3 years ago

Freddy - you have to be this stupid on purpose. Otherwise, you simply don't count as a human being. As usual, you have all your facts wrong. The community Treyvon lived in was an upper-middle class, gated community. A lovely mix of nationalities and cultures. You state:
" Maybe, just maybe if the vast majority of neighborhoods where this same sub-set lived showed just an iota of care or pride rather than being turned into junkyards, open sewers and trash dumps by their own inhabitants people as a whole would think differently of them." Freddy
What a piece of crap you and the likes of Joe V and Scarlett G are. The sad thing is you guys vote! I don't think any of you could afford to live in the same community as Treyvon's successful dad. The stereotypical scenario you visualize is not where this scene took place, you creep!
George Zimmermann is a loser. He has, since being set free, caused more trouble and has continued to be in trouble with the law everywhere he goes. Your support of this criminal tells all of us all we need to know about YOU. PIGS! It is people like you who make tragedies like this easy to accomplish.

Sorry but I can not feel sorry, sympathy or empathize with people that have no self discipline, that feel entitled, whose music/culture is all about whores, pimps, ni**ers, drugs and killing whites and cops.

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Peggy B.
Peggy B3 years ago

When will it stop?

Rose Becke
Rose Becke3 years ago

Justice must be deserved

Billy Tobin
Billy Tobin3 years ago

These plonkers fulfill the wanky yanky stereo type perfectly …’I have rights, I gotta have ma gun’. All in the name of the American dream…what a wonderful society of tolerance and respect for others has been created in the US … if you feel like it, blow the crap out of it ….god bless the American gun tossers, land of the free and home of the brave?

Marianne C.
Marianne C3 years ago

@ Margaret Goodman:

What Freddy ignores by choice is that Blacks do not commit "90% of crime." It takes a TRULY offensive level of bigotry to make a claim like that without blushing in shame.

Hispanics -- Freddy's own people -- commit violent crimes at 6.5 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites, which is within shouting distance of the rate at which BLACKS commit the same crimes.

I reminded him of that earlier today in another thread in which he was posting his ignorance-fueled and racially charged bombast. Also reminded him that racism always turns around and bites you, although it wouldn’t be the first time his had bitten HIM.

Add that level of either stupidity or ignorance -- because it has to be one or the other, if not both, when it's Freddy -- to the fact that in sheer numbers and volume, it's actually WHITE people who commit the most crimes in this country (around 70% by actual volume) and he's reduced to nothing but hot air, and even THAT is most likely flatulence.

I have no trouble pointing out that reality, party because as I am not wholly white, I have no issue with pointing out their failings. And partly because it's just so sweet to be able to throw it into some bigot's teeth from time to time.

lynda l.
lynda leigh3 years ago

Too frequently are young lives, often those within the black community, truncated in the name of white fear or a sense of gun privilege.

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