One Year Later, Remembering Trayvon Martin

February 9, 2013; Source: Miami Herald

Remember Trayvon Martin? The NPQ Newswire covered some of the initial back-and-forth in the nonprofit and political sectors concerning the death of the Florida teen and his alleged killer’s resort to a “stand your ground” defense to explain away his death. Prosecutors say Martin was unarmed at the time of his death. Somehow, after a ton of coverage of the issue, particularly around the support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for stand your ground laws (along with ALEC’s efforts to restrict voting rights), some corporations began to drop their ALEC memberships.

But as George Zimmerman awaits trial, it is now just about a year since Trayvon Martin was killed while carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea, according to prosecutors. Last weekend, on what would have been Trayvon’s 18th birthday, the Trayvon Martin Foundation sponsored an “I Am Trayvon” Day of Remembrance Community Peace Walk. Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx joined Travyon’s parents for the walk in north Miami-Dade. Foxx came, he said, because he is a father. For those parents among the NPQ Newswire readership, that emotion is understandable. It is similar to the reaction from parents around the nation when they heard about the killing of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton only days after she performed as a majorette at the inauguration of President Obama.

We found the Trayvon Martin Foundation on the Internet, though information about the composition of its board of directors and staffing was not supplied. The foundation appears to be a fund housed at the Miami Foundation, which should give donors a sense of security that a respected philanthropic entity is providing oversight and due diligence. Other philanthropic entities have appropriated the dead teenager’s name, but there is no comparable information for them. For instance, the Trayvon Martin Memorial Foundation, which presents a dot com (as opposed to a dot org) website, is chaired by one Walter A. Sutton and it claims to have plans to “officially challenge members of police agencies throughout America to a series of spirited basketball games.”

That contrasts with the aims of the foundation created by Trayvon Martin’s parents: to amend stand your ground laws so that they don’t end up with more killings of unarmed teens, to work on issues of profiling (so that wearing a hoodie doesn’t immediately make a teen a target), and to help teens with conflict resolution techniques. Let’s see an agenda that deals with the real issues associated with Trayvon Martin’s unfortunate death—issues we should not forget while the case against Zimmerman winds through the courts. —Rick Cohen