August 22, 2013
By Charlene Muhammad
LAWT Contributing Writer
It’s been more than a month since a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of killing Sybrina Fulton’s son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The Florida teen’s smile captured the world. It glistened as the future and promise of millions of young Black men across America. But in addition to his death on February 26, 2012, after Zimmerman profiled, followed, and shot him at point blank range, the not-guilty verdict shattered the hearts of everyone endeared to him by photos that graced newspapers and TV sets alike. His killing has also revealed the strength and courage of Sybrina Fulton, who says before the tragedy, she was just a regular woman, with a regular job, a regular car, and regular children. In an interview with award-winning journalist Sister Charlene Muhammad in Phoenix, Arizona on August 18, Fulton talked about her life after the verdict, the faith that carries her, and she encouraged other mothers fighting similar battles for justice.
Sister Charlene Muhammad (SCM): Thank you for taking time to speak with me. As we see you on the move, traveling across the country to raise awareness about the Trayvon Martin Foundation, how do you also pass your days when the lights, the cameras, the people are not there? What gives you comfort after something of this magnitude when you're alone?
Sybrina Fulton (SF): I just like spending time with my family and my friends, who are very positive. And they kind of uplift me. They kind of help me pray my way through this. When the cameras are off, when I'm not doing interviews, when I'm not traveling, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends.
SCM: What role do you see Black media playing in terms of the Trayvon Martin Amendment and this level of the justice movement for your son?
SF: They can make sure that they're doing productive stories, that they are listening to what we're saying and not just taking the negative away from what we're saying, but also taking the positive away. Usually we have action items like signing the petition, which is going on our website and just supporting the Trayvon Martin Foundation, and, making sure that they vote.
SCM: Were there ever moments during the trial when you just wanted to, scream out in the courtroom, and if so, when?
SF: Yes. There was a time but there was a room that we go into. And I would call it the meditation room because that was the room where we could have quiet time. That's the room where we could listen to music. We could pray. We could just close our eyes and get away from the environment. I was saying it was a bit much to be in the courtroom, listening to all the evidence, listening to the medical examiner's report, just physical pictures that we saw, it was just troublesome. It was good that we had the opportunity to get away and take a time out from the trial.
SCM: As you’re certainly aware, people, and not just youth, took to the streets after the verdict. In Los Angeles, in the Leimert Park area, they responded right away. Later some broke into rioting. What do you think about the people's response, especially the young men who, as a brother said during the panels, are just afraid and wanting to know where to go from here?
SF: I think they should have a concern. I'm not opposed to someone protesting, marching, attending rallies as long as it's peaceful because that's what we have been demonstrating, you know, peaceful protests, peaceful rallies and things like that. I don't have issues with that. Just keep in mind that for it to be productive it needs to be peaceful. The other thing is they were just speaking out to express themselves and how they felt about the verdict. They weren't satisfied. They were very disappointed and they were very saddened by the verdict, so of course they're going to do things. They're going to attend rallies and they're going to show up in numbers because they were upset.
SCM: Any message for the mothers out there, some already walking in your shoes and some, God forbid, whom we've yet to know as this brutality continues?
SF: I would just tell them to be encouraged, to connect themselves with something positive, connect themselves with some faith based organization. I would tell them to make sure they surround themselves with their family and friends. That's what's going to help them. Don't go in a shell. Don't be away from people because that's how depression sets in. I would just tell them as much as possible to talk it out. Find somebody they feel comfortable with talking to and tell that person how they're feeling because only when you tell somebody how you're feeling, and you get those feelings out, it's not festering within.
SCM: You’ve spoken about having a regular life as regular person. How has this ordeal changed you?
SF: I this this ordeal changed me. I felt like I had a purpose in life already. I worked for the housing agency in Miami so I felt like I was doing something purposeful by helping residents that were public housing and Section 8 participants so I felt like I was doing something meaningful. This has taken it to another level. Now, I'm reaching a much more broader community and more broader aspect of people. I think it's a purpose to everything.
SCM: Thank you again.