Sybrina Fulton, an easily controversial figure to many will be speaking at Penn State during the day that we celebrate one of the easiest recognizable figures within the civil rights era. The mother of a teenager that was deemed by some as a “thug” will be offering her words of resolve to the community. Quickly identified as the mother of the hooded and “suspicious” figure that was shot and killed coming back from 7/11 carrying only a pack of skittles and a 23-ounce Arizona juice can.
Following the news, several took to social media to ask the question: “Why?” More importantly, they asked: “Why her?” Does an individual who was unfortunately involved in one of the most racially contentious issues in modern times deserve to speak at Penn State during a time we focus on a figure that grounded himself on a rhetoric of a peace and unconditional love?
The answer? Absolutely, yes. Let me make myself crystal clear: Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life that very well represented his values throughout his actions. As much perseverance as it took to battle the white supremacy that permeated through every faction in his life, he continued. His message didn’t falter, no matter the obstacle. Beyond the “I had a Dream” speeches and the push for a harmonious society, we must remember the continued victimization of the African-American people. In absolutely no way have we reached a perfect “post – racial” society. To be perfectly blunt, we’re nowhere near it. It’s exactly the reason why the Penn State community, a predominately white campus must hear about the grievances that affect the lives of the African-American community. Through understanding each other can we continue to grow in the harmonious ways that Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for.
Most importantly, we have to be conscious of the fact that Travyon Martin’s mother speaking is not a product of idolizing Trayvon or making him a martyr, but to remember his life lived. That in order to prevent other similar tragedies occurring, we must remember the message delivered by Martin Luther King. On this day of celebration, we cannot forget the minority communities across the United States and their day-to-day struggle to achieve equality.