By now, many know the story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was stopped on his way home from a local convenience store by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, for “looking suspicious.” Zimmerman phoned 911 to report the young man, and despite being told not to leave his vehicle by the police dispatcher, Zimmerman approached Martin, which led to an altercation and eventually led to Trayvon’s death.
On Tuesday evening, approximately 1,400 attendees gathered in the Icardo Center on the CSUB campus for 30th Annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture. The event drew the largest crowd in its history as Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, brought his message to the University.
Martin stated early on in his remarks how “God works in mysterious ways,” and how his mission now is to stop instances like these shootings from happening.
It would seem that many would expect Mr. Martin to speak about his dislike for law enforcement or how upset he is with how his son’s life was taken; but instead, he showed grace and humility.
He didn’t focus on the incident that led to Trayvon’s death, nor did he point fingers of who was to blame. Instead, his message of “We are all Trayvon” focused on the tragedy that can come from prejudging; the need to build trust between law enforcement and the community it serves; the importance of family, how each person is responsible for his/her own actions, and that starts with family involvement. You get respect by giving respect.
“Do black lives matter?” Tracy asked the crowd rhetorically. “Of course. All lives matter,” was his response.
Tracy Martin’s talk raised many questions about family and community. We are all Trayvon. We all have been pre-judged and we all pre-judge others. It’s a vicious cycle that we break by building relationships, building trust, building community. “We have to get ourselves together as a people, as a community,” he said.
Mr. Martin said that at the end of his life, he wants to be able to say the he’s touched, saved, impacted and walked amongst people from all walks of life. In the four years since Trayvon’s death, he feels blessed that he has been able to be a “voice for the voiceless.” It’s easy to see that Mr. Martin is a man of faith and while this wasn’t an ideal situation, he is using this platform as a chance to help see we are all one community – we are unified.
After speaking, Mr. Martin took questions, where people inquired further about law enforcement, forgiveness, retribution, and simply remembering Trayvon.
The conversation will continue with a panel discussion to take place next Thursday evening, April 21, at 7 p.m. in the new Student Housing Multi-Purpose Room (off Kroll Way and Gosford), hosted by the Kegley Institute of Ethics. The event is open to the public. For more information about this event and others like it, please visit csub.edu/KIE or contact Dr. Christopher Meyers at 661-654-2072.