CHICAGO -- It’s been almost five years since Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton lost their son Trayvon.
He was killed by a neighborhood watchman who trailed the teen as he returned to a relative’s house from the convenience store. George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin in a Sanford, Florida subdivision. Trayvon-- armed only with skittles and a can of iced tea.
On Thursday, the parents of Trayvon Martin spoke at First United Methodist Church, leading a conversation they admitted was uncomfortable and difficult because it centered around their son’s death, and how it was the direct result of the color of his skin.
“It’s important to us that we celebrate his life and not his death because his life of course was the most important thing to us,” said Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother.
A little less than two weeks from Thursday will mark five years since Trayvon’s death. Februrary 5 would have been his 22nd birthday, and to mark the occasion, Sybrina and Tracy released a book they co-authored, called “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.”
“We wanted to be the voice for Trayvon,” his mother said. “We wanted to give people our account of what we witnessed and what we were feeling and what we went through.”
The book recounts the pain and disappointment they endured, first with their son’s death, and then when the man who shot and killed him was acquitted.
“You put your faith, you put your hope in the justice system and when the justice system fails you have a sense of hopelessness,” said Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father.
Speaking Thursday night, the parents spoke before a full audience at first United Methodist Church, as they’ve done in dozens of cities across the country, focusing on race and social injustice.
“Those are some of the topics that took our son’s life away,” Tracy Martin said. "As time passed on, day after day we knew it was about the color of Trayvon’s skin, why he actually got killed.”
When they’re not on the road, Tracy and Sybrina focus on developing the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a nonprofit with a goal of drawing attention to senseless gun violence while comforting the families those victims leave behind.
"You see unarmed African American men and woman that are being victimized and nobody is being held accountable. We certainly have a problem here in the country,” Sybrina Fulton said.
They said the more they continued on their journey, they understood it just wasn’t about Trayvon Martin; it’s about bringing awareness to senseless gun violence and injustice.
Tracy and Sybrina’s Chicago visit is a part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, and is being sponsored by the Chicago Urban League and the DuSable Museum.
For more information:
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin
DuSable Museum of African American History
Friday February 17th