Skip to main content

Tracy Martin: Let's turn negative energy over son Trayvon's death into a positive

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 10:10 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Trayvon Martin's father speaks at a Capitol Hill event run by members of Congress
  • Tracy Martin says he won't "give up my fight for" his son, who he says was "demonized"
  • The father says his family wants "to help other families from going through" what they did

(CNN) -- Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after the man who killed him, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said Wednesday that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."

"There's nothing that we can do to bring Trayvon Martin back," Tracy Martin said in Washington. "But if there's something that we can do ... to help other families from going through this, then we're here."

Martin spoke at a Capitol Hill forum entitled, "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men," which is the first such event run by the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys.

The group's co-chair, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, explained the forum aimed to address "issues ... spread across the spectrum of the life of black males in America today, clothed in stereotypes from their years as boys, as youth, and finally as men."

"We seek a society that does not define black men and boys, but allows African-American men and boys to define themselves as individuals," said Holmes Norton, who is a nonvoting member of Congress representing the District of Columbia.

Martin: Could've been anyone's child
Trayvon's dad: I partly blame myself

The evening of February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was walking back from a convenience store to the Sanford, Florida, home of his father's fiancee when he got into a confrontation with Zimmerman. The 17-year-old ended up dead, a shooting Zimmerman argued was in self-defense.

The case soon captivated the nation's attention, shining a light on matters such as race and gun laws, including when or if a person should be able to legally shoot another.

Tens of thousands attended rallies demanding Zimmerman's arrest and accused him of wrongly profiling Martin as a troublemaker. Many more people were glued to their televisions during Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

That trial ended with a not guilty verdict late on Saturday, July 13, vindicating Zimmerman's supporters, who believed his actions were understandable for a man who feared for his life.

This sentiment wasn't shared by many at Wednesday's event on Capitol Hill. Still, Holmes Norton said she hopes Martin's story -- which she said has "focused attention on black males as nothing else has in decades" -- will compel Americans to rethink how they look at black boys and men.

Zimmerman helps family out of overturned SUV

One of those is Trayvon Martin himself, whom Tracy Martin said has had "his name slandered and demonized."

"My message to the world (is) that we won't let this verdict sum up who Trayvon was," the father said. "I vow to do everything in my power not to give up my fight for him."

Central to that effort is the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which was founded in March 2012 by Tracy Martin and Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton.

According to its website, the nonprofit group's purpose is to "create awareness of how violent crime impacts the families of the victims and to provide support and advocacy for those families."

Harkening back to his own child's violent death, Tracy Martin said Wednesday that he hopes parents, mentors and others nationwide will ask themselves what they can do "to prevent this from happening to your child."

"We've taken that negative energy ... and we're trying to turn it into a positive," Tracy Martin said, referring to the uproar over his son's death and later Zimmerman's acquittal. "What we can do tomorrow -- as a nation, as a people -- to stop someone else's child from being killed is certainly a positive."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
George Zimmerman
updated 8:50 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Let's get ready to ... mumble.
updated 8:35 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
updated 2:41 PM EDT, Sun September 29, 2013
George Zimmerman's estranged wife said that while she respects the jury's not guilty verdict in his second-degree murder trial, she now has doubts about his innocence.
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
George Zimmerman's defense team says people should delve into the "substance" of other comments made by a juror who claimed the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 1:12 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Four days after he was acquitted of murder, George Zimmerman stepped out of seclusion to help a family.
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
Florida law kept George Zimmerman from being held accountable in last year's shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen's mom said.
updated 10:10 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Sat July 20, 2013
The nation has a long history of self-defense laws. Almost every state allows some version of the "castle" defense, as in "a man's home is his castle."
updated 12:43 AM EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN pushing for new laws.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had "no doubt" he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
updated 1:04 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with Zimmerman said she is upset at his acquittal on murder charges.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
His trial's over. And now it turns out that George Zimmerman might need the same thing millions of Americans are looking for: a job.
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
An employee of the Florida State Attorney's Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman's defense team has been fired.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
This might sound like a legal conundrum.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Suspected racism in the justice system, deep-seated, secretive and historic, was the crux of the case for millions, writes Tom Foreman.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Fri March 30, 2012
Just like most any other teenager, Trayvon Martin enjoyed listening to music and going to the movies, friends and family said.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
With a single phrase, Rachel Jeantel, that friend of Trayvon Martin's, may have lit a fuse in the trial of his accused killer.
ADVERTISEMENT