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Sensitive Material

12AD.8.6 Trayvon Martin, Livonia Ave. at Jerome, Brooklyn, 2015

Photograph of a mural depicting a portrait of Trayvon Martin, illuminated at night

Vergara, Camilo J.
Library of Congress

Vergara, Camilo J, photographer. Trayvon Martin, Livonia Ave. at Jerome, Brooklyn. United States Brooklyn New York, 2015. Photograph.

As you observe this mural, consider what story it is trying to tell. Look closely for specifics. What does the mural tell you? What questions are you left with? The central figure in this mural is Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager who was shot in Florida. How does the mural portray Martin? Consider what message the artist wants us to walk away with. How is this mural a response to media coverage of Martin’s murder? How does the mural offer a different perspective on Martin and the meaning of his death other than that which circulated online and in news reports?

Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American boy who was killed in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Martin was walking back to the house where he was staying after stopping at a 7-Eleven. He was unarmed and wearing a gray hoodie over his head. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old member of the local community watch, spotted Martin and called 911 to report that he was following a person who looked suspicious. When police arrived they found Martin dead from a bullet wound and Zimmerman with blood on his face. Zimmerman had shot and killed Martin. Zimmerman claimed that he had shot Martin in self-defense.

Media coverage of this event spanned across all forms of twenty-first-century coverage from television to social media such as Twitter. Coverage included cable television news programs, blogs and opinion writing, and social media debate. Zimmerman was eventually put on trial for Martin’s murder. He was acquitted in 2013. His acquittal set off a series of protests that provided a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This source is an image of a mural in Brooklyn, New York, of Trayvon Martin that was created after his death. Note the significance of the Fourth Amendment in this mural. Ask students why reference to the amendment is made in the mural and how that may contribute to what the artist wants to communicate about the murder of Martin.

Photograph of a mural depicting Trayvon Martin with protesters in the background