Trayvon’s mom: racial profiling linked to bullying

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Treyvon Martin, speaks out against racial profiling and the adverse effects it has on society at the Union Ballrom on Thursday, January 16. Colby Patterson
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, speaks out against racial profiling in the Union Ballrom on Thursday.  Photo by Calvin Chhour.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, speaks out against racial profiling in the Union Ballrom on Thursday. Photo by Calvin Chhour.

“I’ll never get used to this,” said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old who was shot and killed Feb. 26 2012.

Fulton told her son’s story and spoke about the danger and tragedy of racial profiling at the kick-off event for the Office for Equity and Diversity’s Martin Luther King, Jr. week, planned by co-chairs Ed Munoz and Karla Motta.

A minute before the lecture was supposed to start, every seat in the ballroom was filled, and there were more than 20 people standing on the outskirts to hear Fulton speak.

“I didn’t come with a folder or a notebook. I’m speaking to you from my heart,” she said.

She said everyone should be bothered by Martin’s story.

“If you are not uncomfortable with this situation … I suggest you search within,” she said.

Fulton is one of the founders of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which focuses on ending racial profiling and making children of every race and ethnicity feel safe. The foundation puts on a Peace Walk for children in Miami, Florida, Fulton’s hometown. The events are held Feb. 8 and 9, in honor of Martin’s birthday on Feb. 5.

With her own son gone, Fulton now works to save other children.

“I now get the opportunity to save someone else’s child, and that’s what I work for,” Fulton said.

Fulton and other founders of the foundation speak out to communities about the tragedies of racial profiling in the hope of changing people’s minds and helping children who could be inharm’s way because of racial profiling.

Fulton focuses on building others’ self-esteem and respect to end profiling.

“Bullying is a component of racial profiling. I’m going to always go back to respect, because it’ll go so much further than changing and understanding laws,” she said.

Erika George, professor of law, served as facilitator of the conversation and said she could not think of a “more perfect speaker to demonstrate the legacy and lessons of Martin Luther King.”

Many attendees stood and shared their own stories with Fulton, thanking her for her bravery and sacrifice.

Fulton thanked the U and Salt Lake for “having the courage to invite [her].”

Jean Kim, a freshman in sociology, attended the conversation.

“I think this was a valuable experience for students at the U. Even though it happened two years ago, it really makes a difference in how we think about race relations in the United States.”

Karen Johnson, a professor of education, thanked Fulton for her “dedication to move this country towards its democratic creed.”

“Your message is a call for social justice,” she said.

Fulton said in an interview with K-UTE radio that students who want to get involved can visit trayvonmartinfoundation.org.

k.johnson@chronicle.utah.edu