Sybrina Fulton wrote Michael Brown family a heartbreaking letter, offering advice on life after their son’s tragic death. Sybrina is the mother of Trayvon Martin, another unarmed teen who was shot and killed. The only difference is that Martin was murdered by an overzealous, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman while he walked home from the store in the rain.
Time Magazine published Fulton’s letter earlier this week and while it’s a sad to face the truth of the value of Black lives in America and the hands of the police, the letter is still a beautiful display of support for Brown’s family, especially his mother, Lesley McSpadden. “Justice will bring peace,” McSpadden told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Tuesday.
Justice was something that Sybrina Fulton and Trayvon’s family haven’t been able to experience. Despite the evidence stacking up against him, Zimmerman was acquitted and essentially got away with murder. His devastating freedom sent a message to America: If you’re Black and someone interprets that you’re a threat, you deserve to die.
This message could not have been any clearer for the Brown family, as Michael was shot six times, many of them defensive wounds in his hands as he was allegedly holding his hands up, as if he was saying, “Don’t shoot.” “Hands up, don’t shoot” has unofficially become a slogan that many Ferguson protestors have proclaimed in solidarity for Mike Brown.
Read Fulton’s Sad, But Encouraging Letter Below:
To The Brown Family,
I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t. What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours.
I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence. Of particular concern is that so many of these gun violence cases involve children far too young. But Michael is much more than a police/gun violence case; Michael is your son. A son that barely had a chance to live. Our children are our future so whenever any of our children – black, white, brown, yellow, or red – are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing.
Further complicating the pain and loss in this tragedy is the fact that the killer of your son is alive, known, and currently free. In fact, he is on paid administrative leave. Your own feelings will bounce between sorrow and anger. Even when you don’t want to think about it because it is so much to bear, you will be forced to by merely turning on your television or answering your cell phone. You may find yourselves pulled in many different directions by strangers who may be well-wishers or detractors. Your circle will necessarily close tighter because the trust you once, if ever, you had in “the system” and their agents are forever changed. Your lives are forever changed.
However with those changes come new challenges and opportunities. You will experience a swell of support from all corners of the world. Many will express their sympathies and encourage you to keep fighting for Michael. You will also, unfortunately, hear character assassinations about Michael which I am certain you already have. This will incense and insult you. All of this will happen before and continue long after you have had the chance to lay your son to rest.
I know this because I lived and continue to live this. I have devoted my life to the comprehensive missions of The Trayvon Martin Foundation – including providing support to families that have lost a young child to senseless gun violence regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. I will support you and your efforts to seek justice for your Michael and the countless other Michaels & Trayvons of our country. The 20 Sandy Hook children. Jordan Davis. Oscar Grant. Kendrick Johnson. Sean Bell. Hadya Pendleton. The Aurora shooting victims. The list is too numerous to adequately mention them all. According to The Children’s Defense Fund, gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-19. That is a horrible fact.
Facts, myths, and flat out lies are already out there in Michael’s case. Theories, regardless of how ridiculous, are being pondered by the pundits. My advice is to surround yourselves with proven and trusted support. Through it all, I never let go of my faith, my family, or my friends. Long after the overwhelming media attention is gone, you will need those three entities to find your ‘new normal.’ Honor your son and his life, not the circumstances of his alleged transgressions. I have always said that Trayvon was not perfect. But no one will ever convince me that my son deserved to be stalked and murdered. No one can convince you that Michael deserved to be executed.
But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…
With Heartfelt Support,
Sybrina D. Fulton
Check Out This Gallery Of Michael Brown Supporters:
Hands Up, Don't Shoot: Ferguson Sparks Photo Movement
1. A Call To Action
The fatal shooting of yet another unarmed teen, Michael Brown has caused outrage that's gone way beyond Ferguson, Missouri where the shooting happened. Protestors from all over are gathering, raising two hands in the air--the classic gesture of surrender--and turning the passive move into defiance for the sake of protesting Brown's death. Hands Up, Don't Shoot has become the definition of Ferguson protests.
6. Young Black Men Support
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
7. No Justice, No Peace!
A demonstrator raises his hands and holds up a sign during a rally to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
8. Hands Up
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
9. Don't Shoot
A demonstrator in a business suit raises his hands during a rally to protest.
10. Beyond Color
Why is the officer looking at this White woman, who is supporting Mike Brown, in this way?
11. Youth Movement
A young man raising his hands in support of Mike Brown.
12. Don't Shoot
A White woman with her hands raised in submission with the message on her palms.
13. Generational Support
An older woman raises her hands in support of Mike Brown and the Hands Up, Don't Shoot movement.
14. Activists Of Our Generation
Protest over the killing of unarmed teen, Mike Brown in Ferguson.
15. Gathering Crowds
A capacity crowd gathers at Greater St. Marks Family Church along with the family of Michael Brown and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the killing of brown and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
16. Mike Brown's Mother
Lesley McSpadden (L), the mother of slain teenager Michael Brown joins a capacity crowd of guests at Greater St. Marks Family Church to discuss the killing of her son and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
17. The Revolution Will Be Socially Shared
Demonstrators raise their hands and chant "hands up, don't shoot" during a protest over the killing of Michael Brown.
Demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks, raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
19. T-Shirt With A Message
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown.
20. RIP Mike
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest Mike Brown's death.
21. Hands Up
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
22. We Are One Race
A demonstrator holds banner during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen, Mike Brown.
23. Do I Fit The Description?
Mohamed Bangoura, 21, holds a sign after speaking about a recent incident when he was pulled aside by the Boston Police while walking home one day because he was told, "he fit the description."
24. Am I Next?
Demetrus Washington joins other demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
25. A Happy Protestor
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
26. We Are Praying With My Feet
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
27. Masked Supporter
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
28. Just A Young Black Man, Walking
Mothers need to have conversations with their sons regarding their lives and how to stay safe with police.
29. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae grabbed her Wondaland camp to offer support to Mike Brown.
30. A Stand Off
Ferguson police face protestors who refuse to give up.
31. Even Kids Are Involved
Wow, the impact this movement will have on children is incredible! They know activism at such young age!
32. The Power Of Banning Together
Demonstrators protest the shooting of Mike Brown.
33. We Want Answers
Ferguson residents challenge police with their hands up.
34. Mommy/Daughter Team
How amazing is it that mothers are teaching their kids the importance of being down for the cause.
35. Brave Supporters
Protestors rally around Mike Brown's death
36. We Need Justice
It's a beautiful thing to see our young Black men commit to change!
37. Black Teens Support
As the tear gas fills the air, Black teens stay focused on the cause.
38. Hands Up
Protestors support Mike Brown's family.
39. Don't Shoot!
One brave soul spray paints his chest with the message.
40. Passive Aggressive
Sure, the hands up move may seem passive, but this protest turns it into an aggressive response to police brutality.
41. The People Flee
People flee as police advance on protestors firing tear gas and rubber bullets to force them from the business district into nearby neighborhoods.
42. Let There Be Peace
Supporters go down to their knees with hands up for Hands Up, Don't Shoot.
43. Howard University Students
HBCU, Howard University's students ban together to offer their support.
44. Reverend Al Sharpton
Reverend Al Sharpton is often one of the first responders of racial wrongdoing. He's been very supportive of the Brown family.
45. Hell No, We Won't Go!
Residents and their supporters were protesting the shooting.
What a beautiful sight to see! People banning together to fight for our rights!
47. Assume The Position
A man is approached by the police while his hands are up.
48. A Sniper, Really?
You can see one person's hands up in reaction to the sniper.
49. Never Give Up
On the 4th day of violent protests, brave souls don't give up.
50. Is It A Race Thing?
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
51. A Powerful Image
Police approach a man on his knees who's hands are up and his back is turned.