Trayvon Martin's Mom, Sybrina Fulton, on Protests: ‘A Cry for Change'

Sybrina Fulton is a mother and advocate for social good. The Miami native became nationally known following the killing of her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin. She co-founded the Travyon Martin Foundation with Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, to bring awareness to senseless gun violence. She also founded the Circle of Mothers, a retreat for mothers who have lost a child. The #BlackLivesMatter social media campaign was born in July 2013 following the acquittal of Trayvon’s killer. The hashtag later evolved into a protest movement and mobilization to bring to light police brutality and violence against Black citizens. Fulton has brought inspiration to efforts for justice as an author and public speaker. She has worked for the Miami-Dade County Housing Development Agency for 25 years and is a candidate for Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 1. Fulton received her undergraduate degree from Florida Memorial University.

This is the ninth part of a series where civil rights leaders, cultural influencers, advocates and critical thinkers explain race relations, societal change, community protest and the political awakening happening in the United States following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans. The group, including NAACP President Derrick Johnson and #OscarsSoWhite Creator April Reign, pose their thoughts on race relations during the summer of 2020 and how America may move forward less divided. Join the conversation on social media using #PassTheMic.

Sybrina Fulton, Co-Founder, Trayvon Martin Foundation

Sybrina Fulton
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence
(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

I don’t feel this moment is fleeting. I feel we have reached a point where lasting change is possible and lasting change has begun.

Sybrina Fulton

Q: How would you describe the civic unrest occurring in America right now?

A: I would describe the civic unrest as a cry – a cry for change, a cry for all lives to be treated equally, a cry from people all over the world that realize something is wrong, and a cry that things must change for Black Americans.

Q: Is this a fleeting moment or have we reached an inflection point where lasting change is possible?

A: I don’t feel this moment is fleeting. I feel we have reached a point where lasting change is possible and lasting change has begun.

A civil rights activist, attorney and writer explain race relations, societal change and the political awakening happening in the United States following the tragic death of George Floyd. When it comes to race, “systemic problems have plagued the nation for not only decades, but for centuries,” says Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The summer of 2020 is proving to be a moment for multiracial coalitions to come together, according to Fatima Goss Graves, TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund co-founder and National Women’s Law Center president and chief executive officer. Bestselling author George Johnson explains the revolution is being televised.

Q: What specifically needs to happen for Black lives to matter in the United States?

A: Black lives need to be looked at as every other life is looked at. Color should not be the determining factor. We can change clothing, but we cannot shed skin. Just treat Black American lives equally. It will not come overnight. We have had centuries of unjust treatment and it will take time.

Q: What does social justice mean to you personally and why should others care?

A: Social justice means fair and just treatment to all. Simply put, treat everyone equal. Share the wealth equally. Give everyone the same chances in life and to life.

Q: What solutions will heal racial divisions and disparities?

A: The solutions that will heal racial divisions and disparities are education and discussion. I find that some people are just not aware of how others are being treated, or they wear blinders and make assumptions of why things are happening. Start the conversation.

Q: How do you feel about the future?

A: I feel very hopeful about the future. I feel change will come as things feel different this time. This movement feels difficult. Young people are moving this forward, all races. This generation of activists is different. They are calling for action and appear prepared to be in it for the long haul.

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