Written by Nick Hagan
On February 10, 2022, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, appeared via Zoom at FRCC Larimer Campus’ Longs Peak Student Center as a Black History Month Keynote Speaker. This moderated conversation was sponsored by CSU’s Black/African Cultural Center as a part of their Black History Month Events series and streamed live at both CSU and FRCC campuses. Fulton, who lost her son to gun violence ten years ago this February, has become one of the leading activists in the Black Lives Matter movement authoring the book Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, running for political office in Florida and establishing the Trayvon Martin Foundation with Martin’s father, Tracy Martin. In February 2015, Fulton appeared in-person at CSU’s Lory Student Center, just over a year after the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was first used in 2013.
This year’s conversation was moderated by Inez Washington-Ceballes (she/her/ella), a Liaison for Ram Events at the Black/African Cultural Center. After a brief introduction by Washington-Ceballes, Fulton was projected onto the screen. Photographs of her family could be seen in the background.
Fulton opened her presentation by saying “I have two boys…I have one in Heaven and one here on earth.” She said it was “an honor to be back [for Black History Month],” but that she was “not just black in February.”
“We’re not just celebrating a month of black history,” she stated. “I celebrate all year.” Fulton also expressed that Black History Month wasn’t just for African-Americans.
“It’s not necessarily just black people [that] need to learn about black history…we all need to learn about different aspects of all of our lives so that we can better understand who we are.”
Although Fulton is now recognized as a national figure, she explained that prominence was not something she courted.
“This is something I have been forced to do,” she said. “I would not have signed up for this; to lose my son and have to speak to people…but I have accepted the assignment and I’m trying to do my very best to make something good out of something so bitter.”
Fulton spoke only a few minutes before opening the floor for question and answer.
“Don’t think of this as a lecture, this is a conversation,” she told the audience.
Questions were taken by Washington-Ceballes from the in-person CSU audience as well as from online viewers. People asked questions about the Trayvon Martin Foundation to her work to reform the criminal justice system. When asked about what advice she might give to students interested in social justice movements she told them to “be knowledgeable, do the research…it’s not going to be easy…but don’t give up…get involved, lend your time and your talent.”
Fulton also addressed the defund the police movement saying that “when you hear people say ‘defund the police’ they’re really saying ‘let’s reallocate this money.” She also reminded the audience that her son was not killed by police, but by a “wannabe police officer…a neighborhood crime watch.”
She went on to say that she didn’t have anything negative to say about law enforcement. “I grew up with a police officer in my house. My dad was a police officer…we just want our children to make it home safely.”
Other questions were more personal. One audience member asked how she managed to cope with the loss of her son.
“I leaned on God,” she told them. “There’s something about [losing a child] that breaks your spirit but through God’s grace and mercy…you can move on.”
Later, she said, “I still struggle with how I feel about what happened to my son. I still have my good days and bad days; I still have my days that I cry and I give myself permission to have bad days…because I truly believe that a sunny day is coming.”
To learn more the Trayvon Martin Foundation go to: www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org