Mementos preserve Trayvon Martin’s legacy, 10 years after his killing : NPR

Francis Oliver based a small Black historical past museum in Sanford, Fla., the town the place Trayvon Martin was killed. She has preserved the gadgets from the roadside memorial that popped up after his loss of life.

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Francis Oliver based a small Black historical past museum in Sanford, Fla., the town the place Trayvon Martin was killed. She has preserved the gadgets from the roadside memorial that popped up after his loss of life.

Adrian Florido/NPR

The indicators and footballs and handwritten notes that adorned the roadside memorial to Trayvon Martin might very properly have ended up within the rubbish.

It was March of 2012, the early days after the Black teenager’s capturing by a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman. The protests had begun small, after which ballooned. So had the roadside memorial {that a} native historian named Francis Oliver began with simply a few flower wreaths positioned exterior the partitions of the gated neighborhood in Sanford, Fla., the place Martin had been killed.

Inside hours, flowers, teddy bears, sneakers and drawings of Trayvon Martin lined the sidewalk, as did luggage of Skittles and cans of iced tea, the one issues Martin was carrying in the course of the deadly confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012. However then, Oliver recalled lately, the residents of the Retreat at Twin Lakes started to complain.

“Town supervisor known as me,” Oliver recalled this week. “And he mentioned, ‘Ms. Oliver, you are going to must take that memorial up.’ “

Oliver refused.

A number of the T-shirts that mourners and protesters wore within the weeks after Trayvon Martin’s killing by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s protection relied on Florida’s “Stand Your Floor Legislation.” He was finally acquitted.

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Adrian Florido/NPR


A number of the T-shirts that mourners and protesters wore within the weeks after Trayvon Martin’s killing by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s protection relied on Florida’s “Stand Your Floor Legislation.” He was finally acquitted.

Adrian Florido/NPR

“I mentioned they killed a boy and now they do not need the flowers on the market,” she remembers telling the city official. “Effectively, we pay taxes too.”

The following day, metropolis staff cleared away the memorial. They did so every of the 4 instances a brand new one popped as much as substitute the final. Moderately than let the employees throw the mementos away, Oliver had them ship the gadgets to the little museum she had solely lately opened, devoted to the historical past of Goldsboro, an African American neighborhood in Sanford.

The gadgets from Martin’s memorial deserved to be saved, Oliver reasoned, as a result of they now fashioned an vital a part of the town’s Black historical past.

This was properly earlier than she or anybody knew that Martin’s killing could be the catalyst for a motion that might develop and evolve over a decade. It could begin with the creation of Black Lives Matter, result in the worldwide rebellion over George Floyd’s killing and culminate virtually 10 years to the day after Martin’s loss of life with federal hate crimes convictions for 3 white males who hunted down Ahmaud Arbery.

With the advantage of that hindsight, the gadgets that Francis Oliver determined to save lots of have taken on better that means — artifacts from the primary days of a brand new racial justice motion that in a decade has profoundly recalibrated U.S. society.

The one public memorial to Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., is the stone exterior the Goldsboro Museum, devoted to the world’s African American historical past.

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The one public memorial to Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., is the stone exterior the Goldsboro Museum, devoted to the world’s African American historical past.

Adrian Florido/NPR

Many of the gadgets she saved are nonetheless in bins, saved within the Goldsboro Museum’s attic. However a few of them Oliver and her niece, Tosha Baker, have on show within the museum’s welcome heart. There is a portray of Trayvon Martin, and T-shirts and banners bearing early variations of the slogans which have since develop into the lexicon of the marches that often take over U.S. streets: “No Justice, No Sleep” and “The Entire Rattling System is Responsible.” There are binders stuffed with letters and drawings from mourners who simply needed to pay their respects.

Oliver doesn’t have massive plans for the gadgets. She mentioned she needs solely to save lots of them, for the sake of historical past.

“Thirty, 40, 50 years from now, the stuff will probably be preserved,” she mentioned. “The legacy of Trayvon Martin goes to be just like the legacy of Emmett Until. It will nonetheless be on T-shirts, on posters, and in rallies.”

He was a pioneer for the motion that succeeded him, Oliver mentioned.

“A trailblazer,” she known as him, with a small little bit of his legacy preserved within the gadgets she refused to let be thrown away.