Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old whose fatal shooting by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida set off a racial firestorm, will speak at UConn on Feb. 28, at 6 p.m., in the Student Union Ballroom.
Fulton’s visit, almost two years to the day after Martin’s death, and the subsequent acquittal of the shooter, is part of the University’s events in honor of Black History Month.
“Despite the intense struggle of losing a child, Sybrina has become a role model to many by turning her grief into advocacy,” said Willena Price, director of the African American Cultural Center. “She has become an inspiring spokesperson for parents and concerned citizens across the country.”
Fulton’s talk also follows the mistrial earlier this month for a white man who killed another unarmed black teen in Florida.
The judge in the recent case declared the mistrial after a jury said it was deadlocked on the murder charge against Michael Dunn, 47, who killed Jordan Davis, 17, after an argument at a gas station about blaring “thug music.”
Fulton and former husband Tracy Martin offered their support to Davis’s family.
“The killing is yet another reminder that, in Florida, racial profiling and stereotypes may serve as the basis for imaginary fear and the shooting and killing of young teenagers,” Martin’s parents noted in a joint statement. “We walk with Jordan in defining his legacy to reflect our hopes by advancing love and tolerance in his memory, and continuing the fight against unjust gun laws.”
The statement is one of many renewed calls to reform Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law.
The circumstances of the high-profile trial of Michael Dunn are similar to those surrounding Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman as the teenager walked home from a convenience store.
On Feb. 26, 2012, as Martin returned from the store with candy and juice, Zimmerman spotted him and called the Sanford Police to report him, saying he looked suspicious. Moments later, there was an altercation between the two individuals in which Martin, who was unarmed, was shot in the chest.
Zimmerman’s acquittal resulted in a public outcry with marches and rallies around the country.
After Martin’s death, Fulton co-founded The Trayvon Martin Foundation, a non-profit organization set out to raise awareness of gun violence and help provide support and advocacy for families who have had relatives fall victim to it.
Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available Tuesday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m., at the Student Union ticket booth. A reception in the North Lobby of the Student Union will follow the talk.