On May 13th, Florida Memorial University honored the memory of Trayvon Martin by gifting his parents with a Posthumous Degree to celebrate their son's desire to become a pilot.
It was a powerful dedication as Sybrina Fulton (a FMU Alumna) and Tracey Martin received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical science, with a concentration in flight education, printed with their slain son’s name.
Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26, 2012 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member, while visiting his father in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, but he was found not guilty on July 13, 2013.
The death of Trayvon ignited the Black Community to feverishly fight for the respect of Black lives and bodies. The unjust verdict has been the catalyst for the modern Civil Rights movement, which has been led by groups like #BlackLivesMatter and The Dream Defenders.
“Trayvon Martin was a freedom fighter who taught [the Black Community] how to fight. Trayvon Martin taught us that freedom is an illusion. Trayvon Martin taught us that we can be next. Trayvon Martin woke up the globe. He is the leader we were waiting on- he is our Dr. King,” says Danielle Adams, who grew up in Sanford, Fla. and previously acted as the President of the Florida State University Dream Defenders.
Community leaders like Danielle, who helps to facilitate programs for young girls of color as the Volunteer Program Director for Princesses to Queens in Jacksonville, Fla., reminds us that advocacy builds our communities in a plethora of ways. It is strikingly important that more individuals step-up and do the work that protects the Black Community.
From the death of Trayvon Martin to the mysterious murder of Sandra Bland, the Black Community has tirelessly fought for answers and justice. In a country mockingly called “The Home of the Free”, people of color are “justifiably” murdered and denied the right to the freedom of a dream that they built from the ground up.
“Florida Memorial University has taken the unusual step to confer this posthumous degree award because your son has come to mean so much to so many,” announced FMU President Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis who presented the award to Trayvon's parents.
The death of Trayvon Martin is heartbreaking, but it has helped restore the sound of marginalized communities working together to uplift what American injustice continues to crucify. As we continue to fight for the injustices we face, we must continue to honor those who have been sacrificed at the hands of Uncle Sam. Everyday we must #SayHerName, #SayHisName, and remember to respect our own lives through the intention of community, advocacy, and justice.