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Saturday, December 4, 2021

‘I speak for all the Trayvon Martins’: Sybrina Fulton headlines IndyPL Fall Fest

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Nearly 10 years ago, Sybrina Fulton went through the unimaginable: her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed in Florida. The shooting, along with the fact that Martin’s killer was found not guilty due to the state’s Stand Your Ground law, sparked nationwide outrage. Martin is one of many African Americans whose death led to the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Despite the tragedy she’s been through, Fulton aims to inspire people to change their communities for the better. This year, Fulton will deliver the keynote address at Indianapolis Public Library’s Fall Fest on Nov. 20. The event will be held at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair Street from noon to 4 p.m. 

“My message … is about empowerment and inspiration,” Fulton said at a press conference Nov. 19. “I want people to not just look at what’s happening right now in front of them, but to look past the cloudy day and look at some of the sunshine. I truly believe that when communities come together, and young people come together, they can make a positive impact.” 

The theme of this year’s Fall Fest is “Dream Big/#staywoke/Change.” When speaking with teenagers and young adults, Fulton said she often sees a reaction when she tells them about her son. Speaking with a group of college students before the press conference— wearing a hoodie with Martin’s image — Fulton said a young man was shocked to learn George Zimmerman, Martin’s killer, wasn’t sentenced.  

“I told him, ‘You just woke up,’” Fulton said. “If I can just wake one person up to understand that there’s so much hatred in this country, there’s so much hatred in this world, but by the same token there’s a lot of love, as well.” 

Since 2012, Fulton and Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, have published a book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin,” and created the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Through the foundation, Fulton created Circle of Mothers, a resource for mothers who lost children to violence. Every year around Mother’s Day, Fulton meets with around 100 mothers to bond and heal together. Last year, Fulton met with the mothers of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Both high-profile cases, Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville police as she slept in her apartment, and Arbery was killed by three white men in Georgia after they chased him as he jogged through a neighborhood. Those men are currently on trial.  

Fulton recognizes that not everyone has the platform to share their stories, and that’s why she continues to share the story of Martin’s life and death.  

“I can definitely say [my strength] comes from God,” Fulton said. “I don’t believe I was strong enough to handle it, but it’s through God’s grace and mercy that I’m able to talk to you. Some mothers can’t … I speak not only for my son, Trayvon Martin, but for all the other Trayvon Martins’.” 

Fulton will speak at 1 p.m. in Central Library’s Clowes Auditorium and a book signing for “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin,” will follow.  

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848 or by email at breannac@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper. 

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