For centuries, movements to fight for racial equality have sparked change and faded into the history books amid other political news and unfair civil laws. But when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26, 2012 by vigilante George Zimmerman, groups of activists—fueled by fear, anger and social media—mobilized in a never-before-seen way.
America finally woke up.
In Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, an original documentary series executive produced by Shawn Carter, each part exposes and examines every aspect of the circumstances around the killing, including how the media catapulted the story onto the national stage, the role of social media in bringing awareness to the story and Zimmerman’s shocking acquittal. Most importantly, the show will explore the enduring legacy of Martin’s death inspired.
The jarring impact of the tragic killing permeated throughout the culture through the power of the media, generating the worldwide social justice movement, Black Lives Matter. Black people who felt voiceless and weary of the ways of the world were motivated by Trayvon’s story to fight racial injustices and inequalities. Outfitted in hoodies and carrying Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea cans, they marched, held rallies and made themselves vulnerable as they faced police brutality and racism head-on.
From his death to the unsettling non-guilty verdict, Trayvon’s case deeply affected influential figures. LeBron James and the Miami Heat wore hoodies in response to the tragedy and President Obama made a national speech on behalf of Trayvon and his family. These significant acts brought more attention to Trayvon’s story and conveyed to society that his life mattered.
Now, six years later, the number of unarmed Black men and women killed in America has risen. However, the activism initially sparked by Martin’s death continues to drive communities of color to create political and social change through resistance. Their demand to be seen, heard and felt has evoked subsequent rallying cries like, “Hands Up” and “We Can’t Breathe.”
Though the Martin and Fulton families may never find full peace, Trayvon’s life will always be remembered because America will never forget.
Tune in to watch the original documentary series premiering on Monday, July 30th at 10/9c on the new Paramount Network and BET.