Written By: Michael Skolnik
The echo of Martin’s last words ring in my head. It rained that night. A drizzle. Not a downpour, just a Memphis, Tennessee drizzle. It seemed like he knew. It seemed like someone had let him know. His words that night would be his last. The mountaintop. Not getting there with us. But, as a people, we would get there. Somehow we would get to the top of that mountain without Martin. He told us that, that night, his last night. And we believed him.
I can’t get the image out of my head of the bag of Skittles and the can of ice tea falling to the ground. It rained that night too. A drizzle. Not a downpour, just a Sanford, Florida drizzle. Damn, I wish he knew. I wish he knew that this would be his last. The game. His last game. Kobe. LeBron. D Wade. Just a quick walk to the store and back. Put the hoodie up ’cause of the drizzle. Pop. One Pop. Young Martin. Silent. I wish he knew 44 years later, we hadn’t made it to the top of the mountain.
44. Forty four years. 44th President. April 4th. Sweet King Martin. Sweet, sweet like Skittles. Trayvon Martin.
We have spent forty four years since the death of a king climbing to the top of the mountain. We have paused along the way. Turned back a few times. Thought we had reached our destination. Pondered if the trip was even worth taking. Questioned who was joining us on our journey. But, for forty four years, we kept going. ‘Cause we believed him.
We now stand at a moment in our nation’s history, forty four years later, where our road forward doesn’t seem so clear. Our map towards justice is partly torn. Our path has been partially blocked. We lost another Martin. A loss that shakes the very foundation in which we stand on. A loss that hurts so bad that some of us have lost sight of that mountaintop. Some of us just want Martin back. But this Martin is not an icon or a t-shirt, a campaign slogan or a poster. He is the beautiful son of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Two amazing parents who raised a 17-year-old son who just wanted to watch the game. Damn, I wish he knew.
I wish he knew that since his death we have searched for the soul of this nation. We have begun to ask questions that have never been asked. We have challenged each other in ways that we have yet to do. We yearn for a post-racial America. Aspirational. Not a reality. We know that. We still have much work to do. Soul-searching.
But, if we are to get to that mountaintop, it will be our generation that will lead us there. It will be our generation that will inspire. It will be our generation that will fight for the rights of others with relentlessness and determination. It will be our generation that pulls the elephant out of the mud and kindly walk it out of the room. This is what makes us great. This is what makes us exceptional. Out of tragedy, we will not triumph, as Trayvon’s death can never be justified. But, if we are called to carry the torch of kings and queens, let us hold that torch tight and with every last breath, let us fight to get to top of the mountain.
In Trayvon’s name. In Kendrec’s name. In Derrion’s name. In Kevin’s Name. In Derrick’s name. In Aiyana’s name. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s name. We will rise.
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