Trayvon Martin Mural in Detroit

o one could have ever conceived that a mixed bag of candy on the fateful night of Trayvon Martin's murder would come to represent more than just a rainbow of fruit flavored candy. Skittles may be forever linked to the Martin case, which is just the way artist Sean Murphy would have it.

Murphy, who considers himself a social entrepreneur, activist and advocate for equality and the people of the city of Detroit, created what he likes to call a pixel vigil, which is Martin in a hoodie that is made entirely of different colored Skittles.

"Well, I knew I had to do something when, by the middle of the trial, I didn't see the prosecution attacking the case," says Murphy. "I knew then we were in for another white washing and I wasn't going to take it anymore. I had to do something."

The mural

During this project, people donated 93 pounds of Skittles and helped put the masterpiece together. A bag of Skittles mixes together the varied colors of the rainbow.

"The purpose of the Skittles was to create an environment where people-young, old, brown and beige-could come together and reflect on this travesty and to reach out to each other across the barriers of race and class, and participate personally in some small way," says Murphy. "I wanted to do something that could serve to help strengthen and reinforce our fragile communal connections."


Murphy says even people from Ohio came to help with the pixel vigil. But it's not finished yet.

"We hope to encase the Skittles portrait in one-inch thick clear plastic resin which will harden clean and glass-like and seal the Skittles permanently, allowing the art piece to be hung vertically on a wall," says Murphy.

When the piece is complete, it will be auction off to raise funds for the Martin family or a charity of their choice.

Upcoming projects

The pixel vigil is just a kickoff for a citywide billboard ad campaign. Murphy says he plans to paint replicas of the portrait on different buildings in the city.

"This is a campaign and we intend to paint these everywhere until no one can be in the city for 20 minutes without seeing one somewhere. Ideally, our group would like to reach out to other art groups in other cities to include a campaign like this in their town as well," says Murphy.

The first mural will be 22 feet by 20 feet on the side of Shep's Barber and Beauty Shop in Highland Park. The shop has been in the Highland Park community for almost 70 years. Dorothy Grigsby says the mural is exactly what the community needs.

"I went through the civil rights era and I just wanted to show my expression some type of way. The meaning of the image is what we stand for. We stand for civil rights," says Grigsby. "I have six employees and we all felt very passionate about it. That one story touched everybody's heart."

Murphy says that the campaign is not just out of respect for Martin or his grieving family.

"The concept is to keep this political issue of basic equality in our eyes and in our minds so we do not forget about it in six months the way we do so often in this country. As a nation, we can not forget Trayvon and how this country put another dead child on trial for his own murder, just like they did Emmett Till in 1954," says Murphy.

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