Sybrina Fulton was unwillingly thrust into the spotlight when her son, Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood on February 26, 2012. His untimely death sparked the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement and the beginning of Fulton’s life as an activist, spokesperson, author and mother of the movement.

In an exclusive interview with ESSENCE, Fulton shared, “It took my son being shot down before I stood up.”

A statement like that gives pause. Whether you ‘re thinking how drastic her life needed to change to allow her to stand up for change or how strong a mother has to be to move past the death of her son in action, Fulton’s resilience is to be admired.

And it doesn’t come easy. Fulton credits her ability to keep moving forward to the strong women in her family. “I came from a long line of strong, Black women. I’ve just watched them. I watched how strong they were and how they persevered through whatever tragedy, whatever trauma, whatever issue or situation that happened,” Fulton told ESSENCE.

“I’m not saying they didn’t hurt or didn’t cry. They moved forward, with the family, being strong and together. I think that was instilled in me, when I was younger, to just be a strong woman, regardless of what obstacles come in your way.”

But don’t let that strength diminish her feelings. Losing Trayvon was and is her horrible reality, but it’s not the end of her story. And forgiveness is not the beginning of said story.

“I think Black people are not forced to forgive, but they are expected to forgive,” Fulton says of her ability to forgive the man who killed her son. She hasn’t forgiven him, but that has not stalled her heart’s ability to move forward for the sake of her sanity…and her son.

Check out the video of Sybrina Fulton talking about her life, 7 years after Trayvon Martin’s death.

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