In the two months since their son Trayvon was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin have made many stops in cities around the country. At first, it was to attend nationwide “hoodie” rallies in solidarity with their son’s supporters and to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman. Now that Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Trayvon’s parents have transitioned into a new role as activists and agents for social change.
This weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. Trayvon’s parents attended a star-studded rally including the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, and even Stevie Wonder. The purpose of the L.A. rally was to “advocate for crime victims and their families of senseless crimes; educate young people on conflict resolution techniques; increase public awareness against all forms of profiling; and enact the Trayvon Martin legislation to prevent the inappropriate application of the stand your ground principles.”
This has been the focus of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin’s work since the death of their son. After the L.A. rally, they have plans to tour the country to speak at forums discussing the critical social and political issues that lead to their son’s tragic and untimely death. Issues like police brutality and racial profiling are sure to be the focus of their work in the coming months.
Recently, Trayvon’s parents testified on Capitol Hill at a hearing to discuss the “End Racial Profiling Act” the first hearing to discuss the problem of racial profiling in the post 9/11 era.
Also, this week Sybrina Fulton met with the mother of a New Jersey teenager who was fatally shot by police last December. Malik Williams, 19, of Garfield, was shot multiple times by police officers after running out of a police station and found hiding out in a garage armed with tools. Fulton’s meeting with Williams’ mother is sure to be the first of many, as she continues to share her empathy publicly comforting parents of other teens who suffered the same tragic fate as Trayvon.
The parents of Trayvon Martin are using the publicity around their son’s case to spark dialogue and bring about change to the very social conditions that lead to his death. Their activism will likely continue as we move into the trial phase of the case and in the meantime, they plan to continue to be a positive force spreading their message and increasing visibility for young victims of senseless violence.
Their grace under the media scrutiny since the tragedy and willingness to give comfort to other families in the same situation signifies a shift in their public purpose. What was once only a movement to seek justice for their son Trayvon has developed into a movement to seek justice, period.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @zerlinamaxwell