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Trayvon Martin: This tragedy has inspired me to --'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 25, 2012 - Isaac Peterson fills out at a sign completing the statement, “This tragedy has inspired me to…” with his own words, “challenge passivity, to engage and eradicate injustice!”

Peterson was participating in an event Friday at the Missouri History Museum organized to give St. Louisans a chance to express what they intend to do to address issues raised by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

Martin, 17, was killed as he walked back from a convenience store with a soft drink and a bag of Skittles. The man who shot him said he acted in self defense, and he was not arrested. Protests over the killing and the initial lack of investigation have used the hoodie – a garment Martin was wearing – as a symbol.

At the Friday event, people could fill out the forms. The event was planned by St. Louis for the Love (a Facebook group that focuses on positive feelings about St. Louis) in conjunction with the About Hunger and Resilience exhibit at the History Museum and the Voices section of the St. Louis Beacon. Beacon General Manager Nicole Hollway, who also is a leader of the Facebook group, said the event was organized in only 12 hours. More photos can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/MillionHoodiesSTL

Peterson, who has a 20-year-old son at the University of Miami in Florida said, “ I found it so disturbing that I wanted to mobilize. I wanted to find something on the local level. … This could have been my son.”

Kendra Christian gathers a dozen signs to make #MillionHoodies tagged photos with coworkers at Sew St. Louis salon where she says they all wore hoodies today. Christian said, “I really wanted to be an active participant. I hope this story changes hearts.”

Deshawn Moffitt, 18, and Michael Williams, 17, were at the Museum and made signs for a #MillionHoodies portrait. The friends said they had been promoting that day’s events with fliers at the Galleria and on their Facebook pages. At 10 a.m. activists held a March at city hall. Another march was held in Tower Grove Park Friday night.

Williams said that his Facebook profile picture is promoting activist events concerning Trayvon Martin today. “We support the movement by letting people know,” he said.

Moffitt's message, he says, “supports the positive movement” that has been a result of news stories about Trayvon Martin’s death. Authorities are still investigating what prompted an armed neighborhood watch member to fatally shoot the 17 year-old Martin as he was walking home.

Tom Nagel is a freelance writer.

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