Trayvon Martin’s mom urges ‘pos­i­tive change’

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY MARK HICKS The Detroit News The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted.

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.

Mark Hicks / The Detroit News

Sy­b­rina Fulton, cen­ter, mother of Trayvon Martin, signs book copies.

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