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Highland students attend a presentation in Chicago about Trayvon Martin’s death

In February, Highland students joined a packed crowd at the First Methodist Church in Chicago to hear Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin talk about the death of Travon Martin, their 17-year-old teenage son, at the hands of a neighborhood watch captain in Stanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. This year marks the fifth anniversary of Travon’s death and the debut of his parents’ book about the incident and trial entitled, The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin: Rest in Power.

The incident occurred in a gated community when Trayvon was returning to his father’s house after having bought Skittles at a corner store.  George Zimmerman followed Trayvon in his car. After calling 911 to report a suspicious man on the property, Zimmerman was told to wait for the police and to stop following Trayvon.  Zimmerman ignored the instructions and followed Trayvon on foot.  When Trayvon was in his father’s backyard, he asked Zimmerman why he was being followed.  Within two minutes, and after Trayvon’s calls for help, Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Even then President Obama was moved by this miscarriage of justice to talk about how Trayvon could have been his son.  The ensuing publicity and protests forced the police to arrest Zimmerman and charge him with second-degree murder.  After the trial, many consider poorly handled by the prosecution, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges.

Trayvon’s parents’ book outlines the facts of the incident, the slow response by the police, and the aftermath of protests and media coverage. The book also describes how civil rights leaders joined the protests insisting George Zimmerman be arrested and tried.  Trayvon’s parents have established the Trayvon Martin Foundation to support educating young men — particularly African American male teens — about how to handle these types of confrontations which they frequently face, often with the police.

— Kay Ostberg, English Faculty

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