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 objects from the roadside memorial that popped up after his loss of life.

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Adrian Florido/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 objects 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 effectively have ended up within the rubbish.

It was March of 2012, the early days after the Black teenager’s taking pictures 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 group 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 baggage of Skittles and cans of iced tea, the one issues Martin was carrying through the deadly confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012. However then, Oliver recalled just 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 few 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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A few 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. “Properly, we pay taxes too.”

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

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

This was effectively earlier than she or anybody knew that Martin’s killing could be the catalyst for a motion that will develop and evolve over a decade. It might 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 good thing about that hindsight, the objects that Francis Oliver determined to avoid wasting 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 realm’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 realm’s African American historical past.

Adrian Florido/NPR

Many of the objects 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 middle. There is a portray of Trayvon Martin, and T-shirts and banners bearing early variations of the slogans which have since change into the lexicon of the marches that frequently take over U.S. streets: “No Justice, No Sleep” and “The Entire Rattling System is Responsible.” There are binders filled with letters and drawings from mourners who simply wished to pay their respects.

Oliver doesn’t have large plans for the objects. She mentioned she needs solely to avoid wasting them, for the sake of historical past.

“Thirty, 40, 50 years from now, the stuff can be preserved,” she mentioned. “The legacy of Trayvon Martin goes to be just like the legacy of Emmett Until. It’ll 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 objects she refused to let be thrown away.

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