“It Seems Like Yesterday That Trayvon Was Here”


Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton

From left: Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin; his mother, Sybrina Fulton; and Benjamin Crump, the family’s lawyer. James West

A few hundred demonstrators chanted “Hoodies up! Hoodies up!” in New York City’s Union Square earlier tonight to mark the exact minute that Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman one year ago. Zimmerman was ultimately charged with second-degree murder in the case, which sparked a national debate over racial profiling.

Dark hoodies drawn over their heads in remembrance of what their son was wearing that night, Trayvon’s parents stood with their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, and Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx to lead a candlelight vigil that doubled as a call to action against profiling, gun violence, and the proliferation of so-called Stand Your Ground laws.

“This is a somber day for us,” said Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, with the help of a bullhorn. “This is a day that won’t be forgotten. It seems like yesterday that Trayvon was here.”

Foxx spoke briefly and quietly: “We had a moment together,” he said of his meeting with Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother. “I want you to know this is a personal thing.” He promised to use his fame to help push for justice in Trayvon’s case. Crump told demonstrators that Foxx had flown in from Los Angeles especially to meet with the family on the one-year anniversary. Foxx sang a short tune, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” before concluding, “We love you.” He hugged the pair.

As the hour approached, Crump prepared the audience: “People in Sanford get ready…People in Tucson, Arizona, get ready. People in Aurora, Colorado, get ready. People all over the world get ready,” he said. “Let Tracy and Sybrina know that even though Trayvon may have been alone last year at 7:17, he is not alone this year at 7:17.”

Tracy Martin

Martin thanks the crowd in Manhattan’s Union Square. James West

Trayvon’s parents led the crowd in a minute of silence. People bowed their heads and closed their eyes. It was the only moment Fulton looked unruffled by the horde of reporters, leaning close to Crump.

As the clock struck 7:17, the moment the killing took place, Fulton and Martin spoke a short prayer in unison over the bullhorn: “We remember Trayvon Martin. Gone but never forgotten.” The words were repeated several times by the crowd, a mix of activists. protesters, and New Yorkers on their way home from work.

Fulton then began to count, “One… two…” As the minute came to a close, and rain began to fall, she said, “three,” and everyone blew out their candles and cheered.

A candle is lit

A participant holds a candle at the Trayvon Martin vigil. James West

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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