A Hard Lesson
If there's any lesson that parents should learn from the death of her son, Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton wants it to be that vigilance is necessary...even in places where you wouldn't expect it to be.
ABOVE PHOTO: AP photo.
By Denise Clay
The death of a child is something that most would agree is a tragedy.
Because of the pain it can cause in a family, some families don't make it through. Parents who are allowed to mourn privately find it rough, especially if the child is taken under a circumstance like the one that Trayvon Martin found himself in.
But Sybrina Fulton has not had the luxury of privacy. America has watched her and Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin, mourn their child and talk to whomever will listen about the justice they are seeking for his death. George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watchman who shot Trayvon will be going on trial soon for second-degree murder.
Fulton was in town last weekend as part of the International Caucus of Women of the African Diaspora, Greater Philadelphia Caucus-sponsored Trayvon Martin Project SOS (Saving Our Sons And Daughters). She was one of the keynote speakers for the conference and says that while she's still very much in pain over her loss, she's looking at a much bigger picture.
"I take it one day at a time and I know that God is in control," she said. "The support I receive and the encouragement I'm able to give others helps me out a lot. I want people to see Trayvon's death as a lesson; to know that things are serious. I don't want what happened to me to happen to someone else."
Much of the conference focused on ways to keep other parents from having to ever know that pain. Activists, community leaders and others came together to discuss some of the issues that have led to some of the violence seen in the streets, the impact of Stand Your Ground laws like the one in Florida that the Zimmerman is basing his defense on, and what solutions the community can come up with to stem the tide of violence.
The conference started with a Town Hall meeting held at Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. Moderated by Clear Channel's Lorraine Ballard Morrill, panelists included Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Trayvon Martin's family, activist Dick Gregory, local attorney and activist Michael Coard, former City Council candidate Sharif Street and State Sen. Shirley Kitchen.
That this conference was being held in Philadelphia at this time allows the community to focus not only on the tragedy that is Trayvon Martin's death, but to also look at the deaths that are becoming commonplace among the city's young black men, said The Rev. Carl A. Prince, pastor of Zion Baptist Church, one of the conference sites.
When Black boys are killed before they're allowed to fully become Black men, the community, if not the country, feels the impact, Prince said.
"All of our institutions are in jeopardy, from the Black Church to HBCUs," he said. "The Black Family is impacted because of this. This is not just a black problem, it's an American epidemic. All of America's institutions are in jeopardy because of this."
But while there are things that can be attributed to white supremacy and societal norms, Gregory refused to allow the audience the luxury of placing the fault for the current spate of murders on that particular doorstep.
"Death is final," he said. "Some of the strongest voices in America are the Black Woman and the Black Church. There are certain things that you can't blame on white people. Kids are a reflection of their parents."
In addition to having a series of workshops that addressed a variety of things including education and social services, organizers also gave Fulton a check for the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
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