The world came to know Sybrina Fulton after her 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin was followed, shot and killed by a man named George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012. Almost immediately, she became the face of insurmountable pain and undeniable strength within the Black community. She and her ex, Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin, showed up to every trial, legal proceeding, rally and TV show to speak out against loose gun control laws and to refurbish the tainted image of their son, whom she insists “was not perfect,” but was no monster.
Now, just days after the three-year anniversary of her son’s death, Sybrina Fulton has become one of the modern day faces of the ongoing movement for civil rights. Instead of sulking after a jury found George Zimmerman innocent in July 2013, she made it her life mission to become what she calls, “a voice for the voiceless.”
Unfortunately, since Trayvon’s murder, there have been several public shootings involving unarmed Black men. When mothers Samaria Rice (Tamir Rice), Lucia McBath (Jordan Davis), Lesley McFadden (Michael Brown), Gwen Carr (Eric Garner) and countless others lost their sons to police brutality and racial tensions grew to a new high, she stood right by them. She helped each of them deal with their new role in the public eye and spoke when they were too emotional to.
As more and more mothers join the unfortunate group of women who lost their sons to police violence and racial profiling, Fulton works harder and harder to make sure there are fewer women losing their sons. Most importantly, as an activist, leader and public speaker, she’s working to make sure fewer sons lose their lives.
In a powerful letter written to Mike Brown’s mother, published in Time magazine, Sybrina summed up why she and the other women who suffered profound tragedies can never stop fighting to be heard.
“While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…”
For her fierce passion to fight injustice and helping others along the way, ESSENCE Fest speaker Sybrina Fulton is our #WEW.
Keep up with her on Twitter, @SybrinaFulton.