Sybrina Fulton, mother of late Trayvon Martin, spoke to a crowded room Monday night in Schwab Auditorium. Sybrina’s talk was one of many events that will headline Penn State’s 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Week.
Following the death of her 17 year-old son, Fulton has turned her family tragedy into social change. She has used her voice to speak out against violence and has even started a charity in her late son’s name. Fulton has traveled around the country telling her story of heartbreak and hope, and tonight was no different.
The evening began with remarks from University President, Eric Barron. Barron spoke on his experiences with race and what the University is doing to change the racial climate on campus.
“If you want a rich environment for education, it must be diverse and inclusive. Diversity is a shared responsibility not an individual responsibility.”
As Sybrina Fulton took the stage, she informed the crowd that what she had to say would not be a lecture, but more of a conversation.
“Tonight will not be a lecture, it will be a conversation. This is my life. This is my tragedy”.
Fulton went on to describe the events that unfolded surrounding the death of her son. She shared that the media has made it appear that her son would still be here had he not worn a hoodie that night, but she knows that it is much deeper than that.
Because of this, she feels it is her duty to speak out on issues of gun violence and race.
“It’s [Martin’s death] sad. But we have to talk about it and we have to face it. Don’t wait until it happens to you.”
Fulton then encouraged the students in the crowd to recognize and respect the different races, religions, genders, and orientations on campus. She articulated the fact that unless we talk about our differences, we won’t get past them.
As she encouraged the crowd to take the next step in the fight for injustice, she admitted that she still has some personal growing to do regarding forgiving the man that murdered her son.
“I have not gotten to the point where I forgive [George Zimmerman].”
At the conclusion of her talk, Fulton took a few questions from the audience via Twitter regarding gun laws, racism, and how students can be active in the fight for equality.
While Sybrina Fulton continues to speak on behalf of her son and others affected by gun violence, she knows that she will never be the same.
“A piece of my heart is in heaven. Trayvon.”
Those interested in becoming involved in the Trayvon Martin foundation can visit www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org for more information.
Photo Credit: Joel Bissell