By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
By transforming her grief into a platform for social change, the mother of Trayvon Martin has received many honors, including a recent award from the Miami-Dade County School Board.
On July 22 the board honored Sybrina Fulton, who launched a foundation to bring attention to racial and gender profiling after her unarmed 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 by George Zimmerman in central Florida.
In a recent proclamation recognizing her efforts, Miami school board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall presented Fulton with an award.
Meanwhile, a board member said of the district’s suspension policy which prompted Trayvon Martin’s mother to send him to live with his father after he was suspended from school and later killed.
“Your son’s name is being remembered,” said school board member Raquel Regalado, speaking in the Miami Herald. “As a district, we’re cognizant of the need to change outdoor suspension.”
Regalado said the school district is reevaluating its discipline policies.
On the foundation’s website, Fulton highlights many recent social changes. For example, there is a photo of the first female African-American patrol deputy hired by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Another photo shows a pair of uplifted praying hands that reach out to families whose relatives were killed in a Charleston church. There is a photo of a circle of mothers whose children have been killed.
Fulton has received many awards including an achievement award in March at Oakwood University Church in Alabama.
Speaking in several news reports at Oakwood Church, Fulton described the type of advice she would give to parents who have faced the death of a child.
“I would tell them to make sure they have a favorite Bible verse,” she said. “I don’t think I would be physically and mentally strong enough to endure this without God’s help. I would also advise them to seek legal counsel.”
Specifically, the experience has taught her a compelling lesson in the past three years. ““Sadly, I’ve learned … in my small mind I thought we’d come much further than we had,” she said.
“I thought we’d moved past a lot of this. I didn’t realize how deep-rooted profiling is and how rooted discrimination is. I was disappointed to find that out. But social media has brought a lot of people together. Two million people signed the Change.org petition for Trayvon.”
“I had to get storage for all the cards and flowers people have sent. So much love has come out of this.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s gotten easier, I’ve learned to deal with it and part of that was I decided I could be doing more. Growing up I had my mother and grandmother and great-grandmother with me. I realized I come from a long line of strong African-American women and I realized … ’I needed to do more, for my son who was killed, and my son who is still alive.’”