Martin Richard: One Important Observation About The Boston Marathon Bombing

Not a few black people are spreading this photograph of 8-year-old Martin Richard on social media in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and showing and expressing support for his grieving and injured family members.

According to Snopes.com, who is checking out all ‘Net and Web rumors regarding the bombing, this was a photograph taken in April 2012 after a class lesson taught by instructor Rachel Moo regarding the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmermann. Naturally, Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, came to learn about the photograph and its context through social media, and issued a statement:

Statement to the Family of Martin Richard
from the Parents of Trayvon Martin

Our hearts are broken over the tragedy in Boston yesterday.  Our family sends our sincerest condolences to all of those who have been affected by this terrible situation.  We especially would like to send a message to the family of eight-year-old Martin Richard.  We have come to understand that the peace sign that Martin is holding in a photo being circulated throughout the media was created in response to a lesson by his teacher about the death of our son. From our family to yours, we are praying for you, thinking about you, and will remember your son for the rest of our lives.

~Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin

(Statement corrected only for punctuation.)

This poster, which was generated by the Facebook group Everyone Matters, is being spread throughout social media. It depicts in shadow two now-famous murdered children hand-in-hand and facing eternity, teenager Trayvon Martin and Martin Richard, one of the three killed at the site of the Boston Marathon finish line Monday, with the original photo in the inset below right (Courtesy: Everyone Matters)

When children are heartlessly murdered, or coldly considered by terrorists like Timothy McVeigh as “collateral damage,” it is viewed as even more of a crime.  Particularly with this little child, he was being taught not to hate, but also to dislike discrimination, whether with Trayvon, who was innocently wearing his hoodie in the rain, or elsewhere.  Even young children have a sense of what is injustice and what is wrong, and it was being reinforced with Martin and with his classmates, whether in school or at home.  He was being taught to care.

Despite what the online hate squad wants to everyone to think, young children do have a point-of-view about the world, whether simplistic or mature.   And they bear respecting, because hate kills.

Mother Tammy Lynch consoles her weeping daughter, Kaitlyn, after they placed flowers and balloons of condolence at Martin Richard’s house (Courtesy: N.Y. Daily News)

The Guardian.co.uk has a clearer picture of what happened to Martin when the bombs struck.  Contrary to initial news reports, Martin was not high-fiving his father running in the marathon:

The details of their deaths are heartbreaking. The Richard family had been trying to get away from the first explosion when they were caught in the second blast. Martin was killed, while his mother, Denise, and six-year-old sister Jane suffered serious wounds in the attack. His father Bill was hit on the legs by metal fragments and ball bearings. Martin’s older brother, Henry, was not injured.

“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston,” Bill Richard said in a statement released on Tuesday. “My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries.

We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for your privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover. Thank you.”

Bill Richard, an avid runner, would normally have been taking part in the race but had sat out this year’s event because of injury.

Local police allow neighbors and strangers mourning the death of Martin Richard to place flowers and cards at the door of his home (Courtesy: Daily Beast)

Bill Richard himself was by no means uninjured.  A doctor pulled ball bearings out of his legs.  Flying shrapnel like this and shards of carpenter’s nails were meant to exact the maximum hurt on spectators and passers-by.

A mother and daughter leave more flowers and cards at the Richard doorstep (Courtesy: N.Y. Daily News)

The Richard family were active in their community, the Ashmont section of Dorchester, MA, which was once the home of President John F. Kennedy‘s mother Rose and his grandparents, the Fitzgeralds, who at one time was Boston’s mayoral family.  From what I understand, the Richardses were respected civic activists, so the crowd of legislators describing the Richard family on news outlets is not necessarily about getting face time. 

Bill Richard is vice president of an environmental testing company called EST Associates. He also volunteered extensively in the St. Mark’s Area Main Street group, a community effort to restore the main street businesses of Peabody Square.

Both Denise and Bill Richard are runners, but contrary to initial reports, Bill Richard did not run in the marathon on Monday. Instead, the family went to the finish line to watch together, as they had done for the last several years, friends said. In addition to Martin and Jane, the couple has an older son, Henry, friends said.

The Ashmont neighborhood is one of restored Victorians, mostly younger families and leafy backyards. “Every Friday night, one of those backyards would be hosting an impromptu neighborhood party, with all the children running in the back,” Christina Keefe said.

Family friends who live near the Richard family told stories of singing Irish songs with them in their kitchen late into the night, of the entire family pitching in for every volunteer effort: decorating the float for the Dorchester Day Parade, helping at the neighborhood chili cook-off, and collecting trash in the annual Boston Shines cleanup project.

Young Martin attended Catholic school until he was in the first grade, when he and his sister began attending Neighborhood House Charter School. Their mother served there as the school librarian.  He had just made his first Holy Communion.

No one who was caught by those bombs was collateral damage to someone’s higher ideal or point-of-view.  The same with Trayvon Martin, who was only trying to get home out of the rain.

The only thing that truly mattered was respect for their lives.  The lack of it helped to kill them.

I join with other blacks (as well as other people of color) who mourn and respect the short, but happy life of Martin Richard.

~ by blksista on April 17, 2013.

4 Responses to “Martin Richard: One Important Observation About The Boston Marathon Bombing”

  1. I hadn’t heard about a racial divide with respect for mourning for 8 y.o. Martin. Thank you though for dispelling this obvious myth with your blog and images. I really am shocked as people seem to try to find ways to divide a united country. People are people. Love is love. Family is family. A good person is always welcomed in my home as family and mourned the same when taken too soon, whether Martin is your first name, or last.

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    • There isn’t a racial divide with little Martin; rather, there is regarding Trayvon Martin. That one of Martin’s last acts on earth was to show empathy for a young man who could have been an older brother speaks volumes about where his heart lay. For that, I think that a lot of black children and parents commend him for being the child that he was, and mourn the man that Martin was unable to be.

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  2. […] Martin Richard, One Important Observation About The Boston Marathon Bombing (thisblksistaspage.wordpress.com) […]

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  3. Reblogged this on Journey in my boat.

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