Trayvon Martin’s mom urges ‘positive change’
Clinton Township — Sybrina Fulton can never forget a tragic fact: her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, died after a confrontation with a stranger.
And as other parents across the country lose loved ones to gun violence, the Florida mother urges Americans from all walks of life to unite and combat such acts.
“We have to make change. We have to make positive change together. We can’t do this individually,” Sybrina Fulton said Thursday night. “We have to do this as a people because the same bullet that shot my son could shoot your child, as well.”
Fulton shared remarks at a presentation at Macomb Community College’s Lorenzo Cultural Center, “We are all Trayvon.”
On Feb. 26, 2012, the 17-yearold was shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in a gated community in the central Florida suburb of Sanford.
Zimmerman has said he was defending himself against the unarmed youth, in town visiting his father Tracy at the time. Zimmerman was acquitted in the death.
The case sparked protests and a debate about race relations and became a rallying cry for millions of black Americans seeking justice. It preceded the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged in response to other killings, mostly by white police officers in cities nationwide. Those deaths, as well as mass shootings such as the Sandy Hook and Pulse nightclub incidents, reflect a troubling link: hate, Fulton told the crowd of more than 100.
“That’s the heart of some Americans,” she said. “That’s the heart of some people that we’re living next door to.”
Fulton’s loss steered her to the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a group that works to end gun violence and provide mentoring for women and minorities.
Besides raising awareness about the societal issues contributing to violence, Fulton also has highlighted the importance of supporting stronger legislation.
“I think it’s just regular folks like us who are going to make that change, that difference,” said Fulton, who recently co-authored “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin,” and plans a documentary.
Fulton spoke as part of the 2017-18 First State Bank Speaker Series. Her commentary dovetailed with the series’ goal of sparking dialogue, said William Wood, cultural affairs and community engagement director.
“We felt her message on protecting kids and youth in today’s world was an important topic we need to be addressing,” he said. “We’re hoping that these conver- sations help everyone better understand the issues that we’re facing as a community and a country.”
Fulton’s emotional remarks moved some attendees to tears and others to pledge action.
“She has such courage to share her tragedy,” said Suzanne Fabick of Lake Orion, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. “It makes me even more committed and passionate to fight four common sense gun laws.”
Linda Burton of Clinton Township was struck by the message. “I feel that God is using her to help people who have gone through some of the same experiences and how true the violence is against young black men,” she said.
Sybrina Fulton, center, mother of Trayvon Martin, signs book copies.