Five Years Later — Trayvon Martin still inspires us to defend, build, and dismantle
By: Dante Barry, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
The death of Trayvon Martin became a national flashpoint and empowered a new generation of youth activism that seeks to make transformative change and guarantee that Black lives matter. The conditions leading to Trayvon’s death is what brought Million Hoodies Movement for Justice to form as an organization five years ago today on March 19, 2012; helping to generate global support for the arrest of George Zimmerman, as an online network. Our co-founders understood what this moment meant for a generation of Black youth that found new energy to take grassroots action, fight against our oppression, and build a new society that represent radically inclusive values.
Five years later, Million Hoodies is a human rights membership organization building next generation leaders to end anti-black racism and systemic violence. Our national network spans nine communities and college campuses where Black and Brown young people are building local activist communities, launching direct action campaigns, hosting educational events, and responding to moments of crisis in their communities. From Riverside, California to Tampa, Florida, our members are developing the tools to improve the lives and conditions of marginalized people and build local power to transform our communities from criminalization and violence. We believe that much of this country’s future potential as a more just, prosperous, and democratic society lies with young Black and Brown people making a difference in the political process, and not just on Election Day.
Our members have stopped the criminalization of Black youth from wearing hoodies in public spaces, pushed back efforts to defund HBCUs and other minority serving institutions in North Carolina, launched a sanctuary fund to provide services and support to undocumented students, built a campaign to reinvest in community and disinvest from policing, and are reimagining college student activism.
We know that our movements cannot build power without connecting people to vibrant political homes, piloting laboratories of democracy, and advocating for community transformation. In this new political moment, Million Hoodies is focused on strengthening our infrastructure and deepening our organizing capacities for long-term movement building. Five years later, Trayvon Martin still inspires us to defend our communities, build the movement, and dismantle our oppression.