Sybrina Fulton turned tragedy into positive change

"I know what I can tell you, when my son got shot down, I stood up!" -Sybrina Fulton. Photo Courtesy Jason E. Iyobhebhe

Sade Palmer

Features Editor

Last Tuesday at Millersville University, students, faculty and residents of the Lancaster community listened as Ms. Sybrina Fulton truly spoke from her heart. Speaking on the tragedy that she faced back in February 2012 after the murder of her 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin, and how her life has changed since. The room was filled with smiles, tears, laughter and joy as the audience listened to every word she said.


This event was presented by the Black Student Union (BSU), NAACP, the Student Government Association and University Activities Board. Not only is Fulton a proud mother, she is also an activist and writer. Since her son’s death, she has dedicated her life to transforming tragedy into social change. She is now a spokesperson across the country. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English and minor in communication, before that horrific day she was an employee for the Miami-Dade County Housing Development Agency for more than 25 years.


“Nothing could have prepared me for this,” says Fulton. Starting the speech mentioning how she felt the day her son was murdered. She referred to herself as an “average mom” with an “average car, and education.” For something as heartbreaking as this situation, not her church, family, friends, or education could prepare her to handle this. Often making jokes to lighten the mood, she told stories of how her life used to be. She said she’d come home from work, pull up to the driveway, get into the house and start yelling. The audience laughing with her as she goes “you know what I’m talking about, the moms know.”

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The tears came when she talked about the day she received the phone call about what happened to her son, Trayvon. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about the incident in Stanford, Florida on Feb. 26, 2012. Fulton says she was at work when she received the call from Tracy Martin (Trayvon’s father) that he didn’t come home. Worried about what was going on, she left work and as she was in the car, she received another phone call. That is when Fulton learned that her son was deceased. As she is telling these details, the room is silent.

“How many of you think that was the worst day of my life?” she asks. Almost everyone in the room raises their hand. “It was not. The worse day of my life was seeing my son stretched out outside of my church in a casket.” Restating “nothing could have prepared me for this.” She still hurts, she stills cries because of the tremendous lost she’s faced.

Turning this tragedy into something lighter, Fulton fights for a social change in this country. Remarking on the shooting that happened earlier this month in Florida, she lives 20 minutes away from the high school. Saddened by the devastation, she talks about the amount of hatred there is in the world. Connecting its impact to the 2012 incident that changed her life, “you didn’t know Trayvon either, but it touched you in a certain way.

“Not only do we fight for women’s rights, we have to fight for human rights,” said Fulton. Believing that it is her duty to try to make a difference in this country, she now dedicates her life to being an activist, knowing the reason Trayvon was murdered was because of the color of his skin. In today’s world, people are judged and stereotyped for things that identify themselves. When this happened, there were many stories going around about why he was murdered, many saying it was because of his hoodie. His mother, believes it was because he was racially profiled and stereotyped because he was black.


Trayvon Martin Foundation:

  • The Trayvon Martin Foundation was started after his death. It is a social justice organization with one of the goals being to end senseless gun violence. They host different important programs, activities and each year on Feb. 5, celebrating his birthday instead of celebrating his death. Each year, they organize a peace walk. Helping to spread the message that everyone needs to know that they can walk in peace. After the walk, followed is a peace talk. This features entertainment with a purpose, and various activities, this year, Jay-Z came out for the event being a surprise guest. There’s also something she started, which she cares deeply for called Circle of Mothers. It is held every year on Mother’s Day and it brings together mothers who have lost a child due to violence and social issues. They talk, cry, laugh together and it a bonding experience for these mothers. Fulton says she wanted to launch this because there was not a place that she could go to grieve. During this event, she brings a special guest speaker. Over the years, Iyanla Vanzant, Maxine Waters, and before her death, Afeni Shakur, mother of the late Tupac Shakur. Along with local mothers, she also had mothers who lost their children and it made headlines, the mothers of Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, and Tamir Rice just to name a few.
  • The foundation has annual back to school events, giving out backpacks as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas events where they out baskets to those in need.

Last year, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of the late Trayvon Martin wrote a book honoring his life. “Rest in Power” tells their story from their point answering questions that everyone had. After her heartfelt speech, Fulton opened the floor for questions from people. She was kind enough to answer all with honesty and even gave a few hugs out to people ending the night on a great note. For more information about the Trayvon Martin foundation visit the website or to purchase the book visit