Arcadia University to Host “Letters to Trayvon” Event

February weekend will celebrate the life and legacy of Trayvon Martin.

A flyer for "Letters to Trayvon" at Arcadia University.

A flyer for “Letters to Trayvon” at Arcadia University.

Trayvon Martin is dead, but Arcadia University will not see him forgotten.

The university on the outskirts of Philadelphia will take the last weekend of February — the third anniversary of Martin’s death — to celebrate his life with a social media campaign, art exhibit, and a sit-down interview with Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father.

“This is going to be an evening of healing and celebration,” said Dr. Doreen Loury, an Arcadia faculty member helping coordinate the event.

The weekend — known as “Letters to Trayvon” — gets underway at 7:30 p.m. February 26th with a 48-hour social media campaign “designed to flood the Internet with positive images of black men and boys, (as well as) articles, quotes, poetry, and music that speaks to the challenges and triumphs of black men and boys.” Participants on Twitter, Facebook and Instragram will be asked to use the #LTT2015 hashtag with their postings.

“It’s a direct response to some recent events,” said Lawanda Horton, president & CEO of Mission Incorporated, a nonprofit consultancy helping lead the weekend efforts. “We really felt like we needed to change the narrative around black men and boys. This entire project was an answer to that.”

On February 28th, Arcadia will host an art exhibit, which will feature the winners of a citywide essay-writing contest for high school students. In the evening, Tracy Martin will sit with Philadelphia journalist Solomon Jones for a public discussion about his son’s life and legacy.

Trayvon Martin, of course, was the 17-year-old African-American who was shot to death during a scuffle with then-28-year-old George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman was later acquitted of charges in the case, creating a national outcry. Martin’s case has taken on added resonance for many activists after the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tarmir Rice raised tensions with authorities and questions about the relationship between African Americans and the police forces that serve their communities.

“We’ve been featuring black men who are involved in education, law, and really trying to change the narrative around black men and boys,” Horton said of the “Letters to Trayvon” effort. “It’s an opportunity to hear from who’s most affected. No one actually asks the children who are walking down the street every day — do they feel threatened? Do they feel concerned?”

Loury, who for more than a decade has organized the Black Male Development Symposium — with similar positive themes — agreed.

“There is something out of sync right now with our society — with how we see, how we think, and how we feel about African American males,” she said. “I get scared. I have grandsons — 23, 21, and 19 — and a son in his 40s. I’ve always told my boys, ‘My job is to make sure you get back in this door safely.’ I don’t think other folks have to worry about that.”

Tickets to the Saturday event start at $10. Organizers are still seeking sponsors — as many as 100 business owned by African Americans are being sought to back the event. Tracy Martin was not available to comment, but a receptionist at the Trayvon Martin Foundation confirmed he will appear at the Arcadia University event.

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