Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton continues to move forward with her civil rights work and will be joining the weekend’s Realize the Dream rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington this weekend. She spoke with ESSENCE Magazine in detail about her involvement as well as her life since the Zimmerman verdict and comparisons between her son’s death and the killing of Emmett Till. Check out some excerpts below:
ESSENCE: You’re gearing up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. What do you hope people will get out of the Realize the Dream rally?
Sybrina Fulton: I think it’s good for all of us to come together and connect for a meaningful purpose. I feel like bringing our families together is necessary. Even 50 years ago Dr. Martin Luther King was struggling with gun violence, which ultimately led to his death. Subsequent to that we’ve had a number of people who have died of senseless gun violence. This is a chance for us to raise our voices.
ESSENCE: It’s been a short while since George Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict. How are you and your family coping?
Fulton: Since that time I’ve learned a valuable lesson and that is there is a lot of work that needs to be done. There are a lot more forums and panels we need, a lot more prayers and a lot more marching in order for us to change the law to benefit everybody, not just some. I was very disappointed in the verdict, as you can imagine. A lot of people were not only disappointed but also surprised that there are people out there that don’t see how important it is to look out for our children. That’s why it’s important that I keep speaking out, that I keep fighting because I think we’re putting a face to an issue. Gun violence is not something new; we’re trying to be the best example that we can in order to fight for our son and many more. I don’t think Trayvon was a super teenager or he was any better than any other teenager. We’ve always said he’s just an average teenager. As average parents, we think it’s important for us to fight for our children.
ESSENCE: You’ve also started the Trayvon Martin Foundation. What is your mission?
Fulton: The foundation was created to turn a negative in our lives into a positive by bringing awareness to how gun violence impacts the victims and their families. We want to help other families know that they’re not standing alone against gun violence. We also want to change the Stand Your Ground law. If not revise it, then repeal it.
ESSENCE: The foundation is hosting a screening of the documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till in Washington D.C. Friday.
Fulton: Other people have made the connection between the Trayvon Martin family and Emmett Till’s because of the similarities in the case even though they were over 50 years apart. I can understand the comparison. They both were teenagers, both were killed senselessly, both families spoke out and both verdicts came back negatively. We reached out to the Emmett Till Foundation about the film because we thought it would be good for young people at the march to see how far we have come, or how far we have not come. More than anything, we want to start a dialogue amongst our young people. We didn’t learn about the Stand Your Ground law until this happened to Trayvon, but I can guarantee you, young people know about it now. We don’t want to wait for another tragedy to happen in order for them to be aware of laws that can possibly affect them.
Will you be attending the anniversary March this weekend? Are you still committed to helping Trayvon Martin’s family with their goal to end senseless gun violence.
Please visit forTrayvon.org for more information about the movement and how you can help.