Trayvon Martin One Year Later: Digital Advocates Voices Stilled

1 year ago, an unarmed teen's killing sparked national outrage. As his killer is tried are Trayvon Martin advocates still paying attention? Photo: Thomas Allison/Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC, February 28, 2013  - This Tuesday marked the one year anniversary of the shooting death of Sanford, Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, continue to fight for justice and against the “stand your ground” laws which Martin’s killer George Zimmerman claimed as a defense for the shooting. 

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, had spotted the teen as he walked back to his dad’s home after buying candy and iced tea from a local convenient store.  Zimmerman questioned the 17-year old, thinking he may have been among those responsible for a string of recent burglaries in the housing development where Martin’s dad lived with his girlfriend. 

A scuffle broke out and we know how that ended.

The news story turned into a case which turned into a movement complete with many people in social media, including government officials, celebrities and families dressing up in hoodies out of solidarity.  Martin was wearing a grey hoodie at the time of his death and in a widely circulated photo. The supporters wanted to show they cared about what happened in this case and sought for justice.

But a year later, there are no more hooded avatars on Twitter. The frequent “Hoodies for Trayvon” vigils are no more.  Most of the digital advocates of a year ago have moved on with their lives…and to other missions.


SEE RELATED: George Zimmerman’s defense: God made me do it


Since the killing, they may have signed a petition to yank a reality TV show off the air, or to protest the questionable name of a bag of potato chips.

A protester at a Justice for Trayvon rally in Miami -Carl Juste, Associated Press/Miami Herald

More recently, they may have raised some stink and demanded The Onion do more beyond issue an apology as retribution for a tweet calling 9-year old Quvenzhane Wallis the c-word on Twitter Sunday night.

But alas, that is the world of digital advocacy, where people are quick to jump on a social media bandwagon and outwardly express their outrage for a wrong… but only for so long as the “movement” remains on the social media radar.

These days, signing a online petition to show others that one cares and sadly, and though they pale in comparison, are the equivalent of the 1960s sit ins, Freedom Rides and arm-locked protests of the Civil Rights era.

This week, we also saw an unprecedented and historic moment for the US Capitol.  A bronze statue of civil rights icon who sparked the Civil Rights era, Rosa Parks, was unveiled just yesterday.  The Montgomery Park bus boycott triggered after  Parks’  was jailed for refusing to give up her front seat to a white man, lasted an entire year.

Only, unlike the causes of the past, most causes today have a short shelf life.  Most are quickly abandonedand not talked about again. Forgotten by the time the dinner bell rings.

After a few days, weeks or, in the case of Martin, months, the voices for advocacy fall silent…until the next time a politician, website or celebrity puts his ,her or its foot in the mouth…or another “Make Kony Famous”- like viral video becomes the “in” thing to get excited  and “outraged” over.

But will anyone care and follow long enough to the ultimate outcome result or actual justice?


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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site Politic365.com while authoring her own influential blog JenebaSpeaks.com which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. JenebaSpeaks.com focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
 
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
 
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
 
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

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