On Monday April 24, Dillard University hosted the parents of Trayvon Martin to have a discussion about the circumstances surrounding the death of their son. Over five hundred individuals of varying ethnicities, ages and backgrounds showed up to be a part of the conversation with his parents about what they believe to be the injustice of his death and how it reflects on American society.
Sybrina Fulton opened with a passionate speech about the character of her son and the racial profiling that lead to his untimely death. As she spoke, it was clear that although five years had passed since the incident occurred, she was still as affected by her son’s death as if it had happened the day before. Emotions ran high as she talked about the intense grief that she felt after first hearing of Trayvon’s death. She explained how hard it was to retain some form of normalcy in her life and spouted that the key was to “do things that made you happy.” Miss Fulton advised the young people in the crowd to appreciate the love that they receive from positive sources and to use that love as motivation to further their education and their overall success.
When it was Tracy Martin’s turn to speak, he seconded much of what his ex-wife had said, adding that not only did Trayvon’s death rob him of his son but also grandchildren and a daughter-in-law and disrupted the lineage of his family, which he explained was paramount. He spoke about the perceptions put forward by the media that criminalized black men and claimed that they were not there for their children. He explained that one reporter had stated that “if he had been a part of Trayvon’s life, he may still be alive.” Tracy made it clear that although he and Sybrina were divorced, they had always remained cordial to each other and he was actively involved in Trayvon’s life.
Ultimately, the overall message that they conveyed was that American society is plagued by racism, prejudice, and bias and that those traits lead to the death of their son and the release of his killer.
“His clothes had nothing to do with his death. Everyone wears hoodies, it is something that you can easily take off and put on. However, what you cannot take off is your black skin and in this country, that alone is a threat to some persons.”Sybrina Fulton
As a member of the audience, I remember feeling sympathetic towards them for the son that they had lost and angry about the incompetence of the police and judicial system and the way they approached the case. Other members of the crowd were similarly moved. Hondurans and other foreigners who were present explained, through the use of a translator, that their presence was a show of solidarity, empathy, and support for Miss Fulton and Mr. Martin and their quest for justice.
Finally, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin briefly spoke about their book “Rest in Power” which chronicles the events that occurred after Trayvon’s death through their perspectives. They explained that it was a way to preserve his legacy and to provide insight on his character from people who actually knew Trayvon and to counteract all the false information about him in the media. The book is an interesting and emotional read that provides a great deal of insight on the actual details of the case and the turmoil they experienced in trying to get justice for their son. I recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death.