On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin stopped by the local convenience store to buy some snacks - a bottle of Iced tea and some Skittles. The 17 year old was headed back to his father’s girlfriend’s apartment to watch the NBA All Star game on TV. On his way, he was shot and killed, just steps from his destination. It was a tragedy that soon became national news.
In the year since that tragic day, Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, have spent a year grieving and searching for answers.
“This year has been very difficult,” Sybrina Fulton told PoliticsNation on Tuesday. “We’ve met a lot of nice people but I don’t think it measures up to the loss that we have endured.”
But beyond grieving, Fulton and Martin have joined together to take action, working to become advocates for change and turn their son’s legacy into a powerful agent of change, creating the Trayvon Martin Foundation, an advocacy and youth mentoring group.
“We want to teach youth about their rights as teenagers, about their rights regarding profiling,” she told PoliticsNation. “We also created a scholarship program to help them further their education once they pass high school.”
The group is also working to have revisions made to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, hoping to add a “Trayvon amendment” that would say, in Fulton’s words, “You cannot be the aggressor, you can not chase someone, follow them, pursue them, and then say, ‘I was standing my ground.’”
The family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, credits Fulton and Martin’s advocacy with stopping the expansion of Stand Your Ground laws across the country. “I am happy to say tonight because of the advocacy of Tracy and Sabrina, there were no new stand your ground laws enacted in any state in America this year.”
Martin emphasized that Trayvon Martin Foundation is designed to help all Americans, not just those who look like Trayvon. “It’s so important that people understand that we’re not here just for the African American Community, we’re here for all communities.”
The grieving parents express a kinship with the other parents who’ve lost children to gun violence in shootings in Newtown, Jacksonville, and Chicago. “Something needs to be done,” Fulton said.
Martin says he’s bonded with the father of Jordan Davis – another teenager killed in a controversial shooting last year – and has found some comfort in their conversations. ”To be in that situation, to be able to give a little guidance, it makes you feel good.”
“We’re just trying to uphold our son’s legacy by turning a negative into a positive, and I think that’s what keeps us going,” Tracy Martin said. “The more we keep his legacy going, the stronger we become as parents of a lost child.”