Before he was gunned down by a neighborhood vigilante in 2012, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old high school student in Miami Gardens who liked to play video games, fix dirt bikes, and watch movies with his friends. He planned to attend college and pursue a career in aviation, something he'd become interested in after participating in a program started by the first Black pilot to complete a solo flight around the world.
A new memo from Miami-Dade County Commissioners Barbara Jordan, Daniella Levine Cava, and Jean Monestime notes that Martin's "future dreams and goals were extinguished before he had a chance to achieve them." But the commissioners hope to honor the teen's life by naming a street after him in north Miami-Dade. Today, the board will vote on whether a stretch of Northeast 16th Avenue between Ives Dairy Road and Northeast 209th Street should be renamed Trayvon Martin Avenue.
"Although borne out of tragedy, a new generation of activists was inspired by Trayvon Martin's death, and his name and image are recognized across the world and associated with the fight for social justice," Jordan wrote in a resolution suggesting the name change. "This board appreciates the social justice reforms spurred by his death, recognizes all that his legacy could have been, and would like to honor the life and memory of Trayvon Benjamin Martin."
Martin's death eight years ago led to a national conversation about gun control, Stand Your Ground laws, and the killings of young Black men. Weeks after the shooting, Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, created the Trayvon Martin Foundation to advocate against gun violence. Fulton has also involved herself in local politics and narrowly lost an election for a seat on the board of county commissioners in August.
Trayvon Martin's likeness has also been used to inspire Miami-Dade residents to register to vote and turn out to the polls. In 2018, a billboard campaign depicted an illustration of Martin in his trademark hoodie with the message: "Trayvon Martin...would have been 23 years old...could have voted."
Miami-Dade commissioners also note his role in sparking the Black Lives Matter movement, which continues to fight against racial injustice and the killings of Black people.
"In July 2013, in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer, #BlackLivesMatter was first used as a social media hashtag and later evolved into a global political movement," Jordan wrote in the resolution.
Members of the public can address the board of commissioners this morning before they vote to rename the street; the virtual meeting begins at 9:30 a.m.
Also at the meeting, commissioners will vote to rename a different road in honor of former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe. That proposal is likely to be more controversial — as WLRN reported in August, some Miami-Dade residents are angered because Uribe is on house arrest facing potential charges of witness tampering and has a complicated legacy of human-rights-abuse scandals.