Providence College names 'combating' racism award after slain youth, Trayvon Martin

Providence College (PC) has named an award for anti-racist activists after Trayvon Martin, a Florida youth who was shot and killed last year in an incident which embroiled the country in a debate on guns and race.

The Providence College Black Studies Program created the Trayvon Martin Award for Social Justice to memorialize victims of racism.

The Travyon Martin Award for Social Justice will be given to one upperclassmen and one faculty member at the college who have illustrated a commitment to combatting racism and promoting social justice.

According to an email obtained by Campus Reform, the PC Black Studies Program created the Trayvon Martin Award for Social Justice to memorialize all victims of “racism and oppression.”

Although the trial for Martin’s death is ongoing, hate crime charges have not been filed and the defendant George Zimmerman remains at large.

At the time of the incident Zimmerman, who is multiracial, told police he shot Martin, who was black, only after he had been attacked.  Martin was unarmed at the time of his death.

Submissions for the award at PC may range from artwork to political activism, an email acquired by Campus Reform last week reveals.  Recipients will be formally recognized in the Black Studies newsletter and at a special ceremony.

Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery of the Providence College Black Studies Program, who is in charge of the award, told Campus Reform on Wednesday that her department plans to expand the award to include a scholarship in the future.

Zachery has frequently referenced the Trayvon Martin controversy on her personal blog and twitter account.

In an April 10, 2012 blog-post she stated that racial profiling “was at the center of the killer’s actions in the case of Trayvon Martin.”

A tweet appearing on Zachery’s timeline from February 1, 2013, she claimed “Zimmerman thinks ppl [sic] are going to forget about Trayvon… Ain’t gonna [sic] happen.  #Justice4Trayvon.”

In her interview with Campus Reform, Zachery said that despite the still undecided outcome of the trial she feels sure that race was the motivation behind Martin’s death.

“If we place his [Zimmerman’s] behavior in context a lot of these times these responses are racially motivated,” said Zachery. “[S]ome people are not consciously aware of what they’re doing but they’re responding to narratives around race.... That then leads them to behave in a particular way.  So while I can’t speak explicitly for Zimmerman I would guess that this was racially motivated.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion.

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