The Story Behind Martin Richard’s Peace Sign
Lawyer and activist Bobby Constantino has shared the story behind the viral photo of Martin Richards that circulated in the days and weeks after his death at the Boston Marathon, showing the 8-year-old holding a sign that preaches, “No more hurting people. Peace.”
In a blog post, Constantino says he stopped into Richard’s second grade classroom last year while marching from Boston to Sanford, Florida to protest the handling of Trayvon Martin’s death. Richard’s class was studying non-violent protest, and at Constantino’s suggestion, they enthusiastically joined him for a bit of his march that day. Constantino recounts the class’s response when the teacher suggested they participate:
“I don’t know class, what do you think? Do you want to march with Mr. Constantino today?”
Martin’s hand shot up, as did several others, “OOOH OOOH OOOH I want to!”
The place became a whirling vortex of poster board, markers and signs.
And then I came to Martin’s sign. It was on light blue poster board, framed by two hearts and two peace signs.
“No more hurting people, peace.”
I snapped a photo.
Those words, when viewed in the wake of Richard’s death, added extra depth to the city’s sense of loss. They provided a refrain for President Obama in the speech he delivered after the bombing. “No more hurting people, peace.” And according to Constantino, they should motivate a change in our own lives:
In 1966, when James Meredith was shot on his march to Jackson, strangers from all over the country converged as one and took his place until he was released from the hospital and able to rejoin them on the road into Jackson.
I’d like to ask that in the coming weeks and months, as we come to terms with Martin’s loss, we do the same for him, not by convening a march to Mississippi, although he would have probably loved that idea, but by convening together around acts of courage in our daily lives.
As you do, be sure to take a moment to read the rest of Constantino’s tribute.