For many Americans, George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin was a deeply painful experience. But from one of the darkest moments for America, Martin’s mother has arisen as a light in the struggle for justice in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Sybrina Fulton took to the Convention Center at Essence Music Festival for the Empowerment Session, “Moms on a Mission: Mothers Turning Tragedy Into Triumphant Change,” to offer mothers advice, complete with tips for action so that their sons don’t share the same devastating fate as hers.
Martin’s 2012 death at the hands of self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman Zimmerman was among the first high-profile deaths of Black men and boys at the hands of those claiming to protect their communities, which prompted the social media response of #BlackLivesMatter. Her son’s brutal death and Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal thrust Fulton into activism.
Even though it’s been three years since her son was shot, time hasn’t healed the many deep-seeded wounds in Fulton’s heart. She admitted at Essence Fest that she is still struggling with her son’s death and that sharing that pain is what helps her heal.
“No matter how many times I say it, it still hurts,” she said, referring to Trayvon’s funeral, which she describes as the most difficult day of her life, even harder than the moment she learned of his death. “If I could prevent that hurt from coming to one of you, then I’m going to say it. I’m going to mention it. I am going to stand up for what I believe in.”
Below are some of the action items Fulton shared, which she hopes will lead to real changes being made so that other mothers don’t have to deal with what she’s gone through.
“I need you to make sure you’re voting in all elections.”
2. Participate in jury duty
“I need you to make sure that when you get that summons in the mail for jury duty—the one that you don’t like to see—make sure you participate in jury duty.
3. Find a non-profit to join
“I need you to connect yourself with a non-profit organization that has the same goals in mind and has the same values that you want to fight for our children.”