Monday, Jan. 21, was the 33rd Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. Across the U.S., marches, parades, and speeches were held. In Washington, D.C., President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence laid a wreath on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Also in the Capitol, the 38th annual MLK parade closed off much of Southeast D.C. as many marched in remembrance of Rev. King and in solidarity with the values that he strove to instill in Americans.
At the LaSells Stewart Center on OSU campus, a special guest appeared to give a speech in honor of her son.
“Trayvon…the reason why I speak for Trayvon is because he is not here to speak for himself,” said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin.
Martin, a 17-year-old, was shot and killed in Florida during an altercation which took place in 2012. Martin, unarmed, was killed by George Zimmerman– who was charged with Martin’s murder. Zimmerman was later acquitted during trial proceedings.
“The person who shot and killed my son got away with murder… I know that. I know that. They tried to tell us that it was the hoodie. How many of you wear hoodies in here?” Many in the auditorium raised their hands. “Amen,” said Fulton. “So it’s not the hoodie. Because our young ladies wear the hoodies. Our young men wear the hoodies. Black, white, purple, and green wear the hoodies. It does not matter. The mere reason Trayvon Martin was shot and killed was because of the color of his skin.”
After the tragic event of Martin’s shooting and the subsequent emotionally taxing trial, Fulton resolved to not become an angry or hateful person.
“I don’t believe just because somebody shot and killed my son that I should go out and shoot and kill someone else. And I believe that.”
Fulton drew upon the words of Dr. King to support her request that people treat one another with respect and dignity.
“As Dr. King said, in the many times that he spoke– you can’t fight violence with violence. You can’t fight hate with hate. You have to come up with a different choice.”
Fulton has been active creating awareness for social justice since the death of her son. Along with her ex-husband, Tracy Martin, she co-founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation– giving financial assistance to families who have lost children to gun violence.
When Fulton was asked how members of the community could best apply their energy to help create a more inclusive world, she gave realistic advice.
“It’s a matter of just connecting that group that has the same ideas in mind. If you want to prevent gun violence, if you want to have awareness of gun violence, if you want to just decrease what’s going on, it better works through an organization that’s already established.”
Story by Alex Gaub
Photos by Angela Scott