Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said he is working hard to change the Stand Your Ground law, traveling across the country to get his message out.
Martin was a guest at the Ninth Youth Summit hosted on Feb. 22 by the 100 Black Men of DeKalb at Arabia Mountain High School.
"We are looking at turning a tragedy into a triumph," Martin said in an exclusive interview with On Common Ground News during his visit to Atlanta. "We are working hard to try to change that law because this is a law that really doesn't benefit our community."
Martin pointed not only to his son's death, but the recent case involving 17-year-old Jordan Davis of Marietta. Davis was shot to death by Michael Dunn after Dunn complained that the teen and his friends were playing their music too loudly in their vehicle. Dunn, who said he feared for his life, beat the murder charge but he was convicted of attempted murder for firing in the vehicle at Davis' friends.
"I was really surprised by the verdict in his case," said Martin. "How do you convict someone of attempted murder but not the murder itself? That is amazing."
Cornelius Stafford, president of the DeKalb 100, said he invited Martin to the Youth Summit because he wanted to inspire students and give them a chance to hear who Trayvon Martin was--an ordinary student like many of them. Stafford and Martin are both from East St. Louis.
"It was a powerful symposium," said Stafford. "Our students had the opportunity to listen to Tracy Martin reflect upon the situation that cost him his son."
The summit drew a packed house of nearly 1,000 people for a day of guest speakers, entertainment and breakout sessions for students and parents. Martin said that he and his son's mother have set up the Trayvon Martin Foundation to promote educational programs that deal with conflict resolution as a way to keep Trayvon's memory alive.
The Florida teen was shot down by Neighborhood Watch member George Zimmerman two years ago as he walked home in the rain, wearing a hoodie. He was unarmed and had bought a pack of Skittles and ice tea from a convenience store when Zimmerman approached him on the way home. He was 17 at the time he was killed.
"We absolutely have to instill in them to be cautious of their surroundings, to stay safe. But in reality, we can't protect them from bad laws. We have to change the Stand Your Ground law," said Martin.
Martin said he continues to receive overwhelming support from the public.
"When he was killed, no one would cover the story in the beginning. Then Rev. Al Sharpton got involved and Jesse Jackson. That changed everything," Martin said.
Pictured at top: Cornelius Stafford (left), president of the DeKalb 100 Black Men, kicked off the summit with a one-on-one interview with Tracy Martin on stage before a packed audience in the auditorium at DeKalb County’s Arabia Mountain High School.
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