Tracy Martin at Dillard University: ‘I lost my legacy… We have to do better’
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin visited Dillard University to talk about their new book, express their thoughts on current societal issues, and share their personal experiences since the death of their son Trayvon.
The presentation saw a packed crowd inside of the Georges Auditorium Monday night (Apr. 24), where a wide range of issues including racial profiling, religion, family, and the importance of individual responsibility were discussed. Fulton and Martin were introduced and joined onstage by Dillard University President Walter M. Kimbrough for the duration of their presentation. The pair also took part in a Q & A with attendees afterward.
Fulton and Martin’s son, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin, generated nationwide attention when he was shot and killed in February 2012 after being confronted by a man who thought he looked suspicious. Since then, Fulton and Tracy Martin have been activists at the forefront of many issues including gun violence and social injustice.
Their book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin”, details their lives before and after the death of their son.
“People want to know when I’m going to stop talking about my son,” Fulton said. “I’m never going to stop. I lost my son. His story needs to be told.”
The hour-long presentation was peppered with applause and ended with a standing ovation. After hearing firsthand about the tragic loss of their son, some students, like Dillard senior Deonte Alexander, saw a glaring relation between themselves and the deceased Martin.
“It really hit home for me because I’m graduating this year, and Trayvon was the same age as me when he was killed,” Alexander said. “And that meant a lot because I could have been a Trayvon.”
With the recent high-profile deaths of black men by police officers over the last few years, a focal point of the discussion was the stereotyping and profiling of black people in America and how it is an uncomfortable topic of conversation for many. Alexander said that these kinds of conversations are necessary if change is ever going to happen.
“I felt that it was a needed message as far as the justice system and how it’s flawed and is not working for particularly Afro-American descendants,” Alexander said. “I want to see change in the justice system.”
Fulton and Martin also discussed how their relationship with God helped them get through at the darkest of times, and that resonated with people in the crowd, including Dillard sophomore Gerrel Bradley.
“A situation happened in their life to where they could only rely on one power, and that power was higher than them,” Bradley said. “They gave it up to God, and they said it onstage. It was powerful that they could give God the glory he deserves, especially in that situation.”
Martin and Fulton emphasized during their presentation that though they are no longer married, they came together following the death of their son to bring about awareness and change to issues that they believe are hurting the country.
“I lost possibly a future doctor, grand-kids,” Martin said. “I lost my legacy…we have to do better…and it starts by encouraging our kids. Changes start at the local level. That’s how it starts. When they turn 18, we should be making them register to vote.”
For Bradley, the way that Fulton and Martin responded to their personal tragedy is what made a lasting impression on him.
“The world would have reacted, and it would have been something like the riots before our time,” Bradley said. “And because of the way they reacted, it was so calm, and it was handled better. It was powerful.”