It's been three years since Sybrina Fulton's son was shot and killed by a vigilante neighbor in Florida. Now, she says, after seeing what’s happened to other young black unarmed men, it's never been clearer that Trayvon’s skin color led to him being profiled and killed.
"It was not about that hoodie, and I need to tell you that,” Fulton told a standing room only crowd in Los Angeles on Wednesday. "It was absolutely about the color of his skin."
Fulton, who became an activist against gun violence after Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012, spoke during a discussion hosted by Manifest Justice, a week-long art exhibition centered around justice. The line of 1,000 people waiting to hear Fulton speak went around the block, with some people standing up to two hours in line on an unusually cold day.
"It's about admitting when we have a problem,” Fulton told the crowd. “Collectively, we have a problem that we need to fix. It's time to stop pretending we don't have an issue.
"My son is not here to speak for himself. I am Trayvon Martin," she said.
Through her Trayvon Martin Foundation, Fulton works with other mothers who have lost their sons to senseless gun violence, helping them to heal and training them to become advocates in their own communities to end gun violence. Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, has a similar program working with fathers who have lost sons to gun violence.
She has also spoken out about “stand your ground” laws, the state-level laws that allow a person to use deadly force in self-defense. George Zimmerman, the man who killed her son, told a courtroom he shot Martin because he feared for his own life.
“Prior to this happening to my son I didn’t know anything about ‘stand your ground,’ and I think people are more aware of these types of laws and racial profiling and the disparities we have here in the United States,” told Fusion before the discussion, which was moderated by actress Rosario Dawson.
“I just think it’s unfortunate that a person has to lose their life in order for us to uncover certain things,” she said.
The event was co-hosted with the human rights group Amnesty International's Art for Amnesty initiative, which uses art to call attention to social issues, and the California Endowment, a foundation that provides grants to community groups throughout the state.
Fulton still resides in Miami Gardens, where Trayvon Martin went to high school. She says the community has supported the family through this journey, though she said she’s most often stopped by people who recognize her when she’s traveling through airports.
“I grew up in the area and people know I haven’t changed any. It’s just the work that I do in the community that’s changed,” she said.