"Staying woke is about doing your part," the mother of Trayvon Martin tells the crowd at ESSENCE Festival 2017.
Activist Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, is all about being woke by giving back.
“I just want to tell you how I stay woke,” she told the audience at the Empowerment Stage at ESSENCE Festival 2017. “And how I stay woke is by helping other mothers.”
Fulton was recently on the cover of the May 2017 issue of ESSENCE that honored the #Woke100, women who are blazing trails for equal rights and inclusion for Black people in America. Fulton has turned her grief, following the death of her son, into action —most recently releasing a book “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin," which she co-authored with her ex-husband Tracy Martin.
The duo also co-founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation and are considering running for public office.
But she said that her biggest impact has been working on the Circle of Mothers Empowerment Retreat, a place for mothers who have lost their children to gun violence. “That’s how we stay woke,” she said, “by helping others.”
She also gave the audience pointers on how they themselves can stay woke in their everyday lives because “we all have to do our part.” Here are four of her tips.
Vote in every election
Just showing up to vote for the presidential election is not enough, Fulton said. You have to vote in your state and local elections as well. And you have to be familiar with the issues on the ballot.
Participate in jury duty
Fulton explained why showing up to serve your jury duty matters: For Trayvon’s case, “we needed a good pool of jury members that we didn’t have,” she said.
"So if you get that notice in the mail that tells you to go to jury duty, please go.”
Be involved in a non-profit organization
Fulton pushed the crowd to get involved in their local non-profit organizations, especially those that have a direct impact and benefit the lives of black folk.
“Because if we don’t look out for ourselves, nobody will,” she explained. “We need to do our part and get involved so our young people can grow up and be productive.”
Follow the news stories actively
Finally, Fulton emphasized the need for people to be active participants whenever they hear another tragic news story. Whether it is writing letters to your congressman or mayor, “do what you do best,” she said, before adding that “everyone has to do their part.”