Stevie Wonder Boycotts Performing in Florida Over Zimmerman Not Guilty Verdict

Stevie Wonder – photo courtesy of


According to

On Sunday night, Stevie Wonder declared that he would not perform in Florida until the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law is abolished. His boycott is politically savvy, morally righteous, and it could be enormously important.

While Stevie Wonder’s boycott of an entire state might have exerted real pressure in, say, 1976, in 2013 it’s almost entirely a symbolic act. But symbolic acts are often the first step toward kicking off concrete ones, and we should imagine what would happen if like-minded artists followed suit.

Beyoncé in 2013 might not be Stevie Wonder in ’76 but she’s not far behind, and her husband is said to be a figure of some renown. Rihanna’s 8.4 million Instagram followers felt her outrage on Sunday. If these [and other] artists were to join in Wonder’s boycott, the bottom lines of club promoters and festival organizers and concert arenas would start to look different in a hurry.

Stevie Wonder went on to say that he will not perform in any state that has Stand Your Ground laws in place.

As the article discusses, this may be more symbolic than anything else since Stevie Wonder has not released an album in quite a few years. This may also seem to some like a publicity stunt, but Stevie Wonder actually has quite a deep history with the Civil Rights Movement, according to

Stevie Wonder, some people might scoff, should stick to making music. But Wonder is one of the two or three most important American musicians walking the earth (Bob Dylan, maybe Aretha Franklin; end of list), with an unsurpassed track record for melding music and activism.

In 1961, a year before “Little” Stevie Wonder released his first album for Motown Records, two of the biggest stars in American music, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, made headlines by refusing to perform before segregated audiences in the Jim Crow South; Charles opted to pay a breach-of-contract fine rather than sing in Augusta, one of the largest cities in his home state.

In the 1980s, Wonder was the musical spearhead of the campaign to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday, and lent his talents to USA for Africa and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

So his decision doesn’t appear to be a “Dancing With the Stars” kind of grasp for the spotlight. Seeing that his decision has made headlines in the news, other stars who decide to participate will likely bring more media attention, and more financial pressure on music venues, to result in some real change. Obviously, it won’t only be up to celebrities, but their high visibility and influence on fans could definitely help.

Stevie Wonder’s decision is an incredibly brave one. It will be interesting to see if other celebrities are brave enough to do the same.


13 thoughts on “Stevie Wonder Boycotts Performing in Florida Over Zimmerman Not Guilty Verdict

  1. I feel the jury received far more evidence than we did (especially since it is hard to trust the media) and they were instructed on the letter of the law (which most of us are NOT) so – I’m accepting the jury’s verdict and getting on with my own life.

    • The reason that I keep blogging about it is because I think it’s obvious that justice was not done. What details would really make much of a difference? The Stand Your Ground law was used before and during the trial, which makes this case worth making a big deal about. It’s an unjust law that usually helps white defendants way more than blacks, so it’s racist (there are statistics that back that up). Besides, the law just doesn’t make sense- why aren’t standard self-defense laws enough? They always were before.

      If we don’t make a fuss about it, these deaths will just happen over and over again. That’s what activism is about.

      • I’m afraid you’re giving too much credence to the media reports and neglecting why Martin was in Sanford in the first place. You DO know he had a record and was suspended from school (Miami) and had a rep in Sanford – some things are pushed while others are ignored. This case was NOT a racial one, nor was it about Stand Your Ground – get the facts.

        • gpcox, the entire Martin/Zimmerman mess is a sad state of affairs when it comes to justice. The stand your ground laws don’t apply if you pursue an individual as Zimmerman did.

          Zimmerman is a sad pathetic individual who killed a boy who was not in a confrontation with anyone until Zimmerman approached him.

          Zimmerman playing make believe cop got lost in his own “want-a-be” fantasy and killed an unarmed boy.

          Martin could have had a rap sheet as long as your arm and had been expelled from a dozen school but on that night in that situation none of that makes any difference to this situation. That is what the “letter of the law” is all about.

          What makes the difference is that Zimmerman pursued Martin and murdered him.

          Where it becomes racist is if you reverse the exact situation Martin would have been immediately arrested and would have been convicted of murder.

          The only message that this entire injustice sends, is for black teens to pack a gun and stand their ground. The white NRA doesn’t seem to be promoting THAT Second Amendment right!

    • What the media did quite well was to malign the character of a dead boy in order to make the case seem as if it was not about race. Your comments about his past prove that. And by the way- the FACTS are that the judge instructed the jury to consider Stand Your Ground in their deliberations.

      For many people, the fact that the murder and the verdict were clearly about race makes them uncomfortable. But regardless of our comfort levels, this whole episode needs to be addressed for what it is in order to prevent such future cases.

      I think what you’re experiencing is cognitive dissonance. Here’s the definition of the term:
      “When confronted with challenging new information, most people seek to preserve their current understanding of the world by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding the new information or by convincing themselves that no conflict really exists.”

      • Talking down to people will only distance you from other people. Martin was not the angel people are trying to make him out to be, nor is Zimmerman the devil.

    • I wasn’t talking down to you. I was pointing out that when a person feels uncomfortable with the truth, they push it away. And besides, regardless of whether Trayvon was a good person or a bad person, Zimmerman saw a black kid that night- not a bad kid. Zimmerman killed someone, and it had nothing to do with self-defense. No one deserves to die like that. It’s unjust.

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