Photo: Public Domain
Paramount Network has slotted July 30 at 10 PM for the premiere of Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story. The network also unveiled the full trailer for the six-part original, which recounts the life and legacy of Trayvon Martin, whose 2012 shooting death polarized the nation and gave rise to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Trayvon Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old African American high school student shot and killed by a neighborhood watch member in the Sanford, Florida community on February 26, 2012 where he was visiting a friend with his father. George Zimmerman was acquitted of a second-degree murder charge utilizing Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, claiming he shot Martin in self-defense.
The fatal encounter between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and the subsequent trial sparked nationwide outrage and protests and shined an unforgiving light on issues including race, politics, power, money and, gun control.
Interviews combined with home videos, family photos, and news footage provide an intimate look at the story of a young life tragically cut short and that spurred a movement giving rise to a rallying cry that still resonates today, #BlackLivesMatter.
Featured in the docuseries, co-directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby-Nason, are Trayvon Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin; Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump, Angela Rye, Reverend Al Sharpton, Angela Davis and Carmelo Anthony, among others.
The series is loosely based on a book written by Trayvon’s parents, titled Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.
Jay-Z executive-produced the project alongside Travon’s parents and Chachi Senior, Michael Gasparro, Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason and Nick Sandow though Zimmerman threatened him by stating, “I know how to handle people who fuck with me, I have since February 2012,” he said, referencing the date of Martin’s murder. “Anyone who fucks with my parents will be fed to an alligator,” he added.
In a separate interview with the Orlando Sentinel, he said he would “beat [JAY-Z] as if I was Solange, and he would find himself coming out of the south side of a gator if he comes to Florida and bothers my family.”
At the time, JAY-Z declined to respond, though it turns out he was just waiting for the right opportunity. When DJ Khaled dropped the album, Father of Ashad, and shared its first single, “Top Off” guesting on the star-studded track is Beyoncé, Future, and Hova himself, who takes a moment to address Zimmerman in a guest verse:
“Meanwhile Georgie Porgie sinnin’ and sendin’ me threats
Save your breath, you couldn’t beat a flight of steps
Try that shit with a grown man,
I’ll kill that fuckboy with my own hand”
“We want to make sure that we stand and support and we never forget [that] Trayvon serves as a beacon of light to the people out here, so you guys never have to go through the pain and hurt that these guys went through,” Jay-Z said during the 2018 Peace Walk & Peace Talk rally, Complex notes. “His name will sit alongside some of the greats [who] lost their life to push our culture forward—the Martin Luther Kings, the [Gandhis]; that’s the intention that we set, that his name serves as a beacon of light and hope, and pushes us into a better direction.”
Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story also addresses the significant cultural and societal issues surrounding the tragedy as well as an in-depth examination into the investigation, trial, and the not-guilty verdict.
Several threads were tied between the laws and their enforcers that couldn’t protect Trayvon and indict his killer to our still-raging gun violence epidemic and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February.
"The difference is, the Parkland incident hit rural America; it hit the heart of America," said Martin of the Parkland, Fla. shooting when asked about its impact in changing the gun control debate. "Trayvon Martin wasn’t the heart of America. Trayvon Martin is categorized as the ghetto. When this took action outside the ghetto, now, America is awakened. Now everybody wants to do something about it. We’ve been trying to get America to do something about this for years."
Hopefully, America will listen, as Rest in Power succeeds in telling Trayvon’s story without buffering the brutal truths or overwhelming the viewer. Every photo -- be it the Air Jordans, his baby pictures or the iconic image of Trayvon in a hoodie -- serves a purpose. Every soundbite does, too, even -- especially -- the shattering 911 calls placed by frightened neighbors with Trayvon screaming for help in the background. Rest in Power forces a crucial conversation, but it’s up to the viewer to do the work and bring it beyond their screens.