Students walk out in honor of Trayvon Martin

Students walk out in honor of Trayvon Martin

Eliza Schloss and Yoon Kim

The clock strikes and the moment of silence begins; it’s 10:17. Trayvon Martin was 17-years-old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. The clock strikes 10:24 and the moment of silence ends. Trayvon would have been 24- years-old.

On Feb. 26, a student-led walkout was held to commemorate the death of Martin and protest police brutality. The walkout was led by freshmen Devan Douglas, Evan Douglas, Todd Tuvshin, Marko Jovanovic and Davione Whitehead.

Jovanovic, one of the student leaders, was inspired to create the walkout after browsing social media and was reminded of the upcoming anniversary of Trayvon Martin.

“One day I was on Instagram and it said it was the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s [death] for seven years ever since he died, and then it just sparked,” Javonovic said. “There’s a lot of racism going on and all my friends have experienced at least something like it, so I just wanted to try and make a difference.”

Jovanovic and the other student leaders went to Josh Koo, student activities director, with a proposal for the walkout, Koo says. The walkout was not school-sponsored as the administration’s sole role was to provide security in the new pit during the event, according to Koo.

“We are happy to support students who feel like they want to express themselves,” Koo said. “We weren’t involved in the process of planning [the walkout] but we are glad that students feel like they can express their voices here.”

After a moment of silence to honor Trayvon Martin, the student leaders asked attendees to pass around a notebook and write about any racist experiences they have  faced or witnessed at school. According to Devan, the student organizers then hoped to pass the notebook on to the Deans.

“My role is to bring anyone together who wants to talk about something that they’re worried about or speak about something that happened to [them] that was an injustice,” Devan said.

Koo says that the purpose behind the notebook passed around to walkout attendees is in alignment with the administration’s goal to listen to students’ experiences.

“Towards December we had administrators sit with students who wanted to talk about racial experiences within our school,” Koo said. “[The notebook] is along that same chord of us wanting to know the pulse of the school. We can only do our jobs best and better if the students let us know what it’s like.”

Freshman Maddie Dashnaw says that she heard about the event when Jovanovic spoke to her SRT class. According to Dashnaw, the event was special in that there was a strong communal tie.

“I think what makes this very special is that we’re all able to come together to try to make a difference and to work together to support a common cause for a better school environment,” Dashnaw said. “I think that’s something that’s really amazing.”

Jovanovic says that the students plan on continuing to hold this walkout at South in the coming years. According to Jovanovic, he hopes to raise awareness about the walkout and expand it.

“I passed [the flyers] around to a lot of people and a lot of people said they [would] come for sure, and I was expecting 30 plus people, so I wasn’t expecting this little. But I’m still thankful for everyone who came because every person makes a difference.”