Pingree MLK Commemoration Keynote Speaker: Sybrina Fulton

Pingree MLK Commemoration Keynote Speaker: Sybrina Fulton

Jackie Elward and Caroline Li

In honor of Martin Luther King Commemoration, the Pingree community on January 27, 2021, hosted Ms. Sybrina Fulton to discuss the tragic loss and legacy of her son, Trayvon Martin. Fulton’s speech was emotional but filled with inspiration and strength. 

Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012 while on a trip to visit his father in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon was unarmed, yet he was perceived as a threat by an armed security guard named George Zimmerman. Later at the trial, Zimmerman claimed that he acted in self-defense and should be protected by Florida’s stand your ground law. This law allows a person to use deadly force in self-defense in public, even if that force could be safely avoided by retreating. After the jury acquitted Zimmerman, the attorney general criticized the stand your ground laws as a “senseless expansion of the concept of self-defense.”

 In her talk, Sybrina Fulton did not focus on Trayvon’s case or the many legal issues surrounding it. Rather, she shared with us how she’s coping with her tragic loss – and how she’s been able to find hope. Fulton was authentic with the community, acknowledging she has “[her] good days and bad days.” She strongly advised students to “embrace [their] good days.” 

Fulton feels tremendous purpose in leading the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a nonprofit organization that “brings awareness to ending senseless gun violence.” Additionally, Ms. Fulton is fulfilled by leading the ‘Circle of Mothers.’ Through this initiative, Fulton builds relationships with other mothers who have lost their children due to gun violence. 

Notably, Fulton stressed to the community that “the time is always right to do what’s right” and called for us to make the‘right decisions’ every day. She also emphasized unity, telling us we must “keep working together to see positive results.” This was a particular call to action for students. “I have 100% faith and hope in the young people,” she said. 

Indeed, this month, the Pingree community has come together in various ways to understand and recognize systems of racial oppression that exist here at school and in the world beyond. Pingree’s social justice groups are committed to ensuring that justice and equity are present here at Pingree.

The goal of POCC (People of Color Coalition) “is to give students of color a place where they feel they have a voice,” according to leaders Kiara Luciano ‘22 and Aramis Negron ‘21. The group works to “connect [their] conversations and knowledge with the rest of the Pingree community.” 

Hearing from Sybrina Fulton was a reminder to continue the important work of Pingree’s social justice clubs. Students were inspired by Ms. Fulton’s strength and positive initiatives. 

GAINS (Girls Advancing in Stem) club leader Kelly Min ‘23 says, “I was grateful for an opportunity to hear Ms. Sybrina Fulton’s personal feelings and perspectives. Her presentation was very informative because I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about Trayvon Martin and their deep family relationship [beforehand].” 

Finally, Ms. Fulton shared with us one of her favorite Martin Luther King quotes: “The threat to injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

Social justice advocate Abby Torres ‘24 says “I think it’s important to have this month-long Martin Luther King Commemoration because it allows us to do more in-depth learning about different topics related to the civil rights movement and his work as a nonviolent activist.” She continues, “instead of having a singular presentation and then not really doing anything else to celebrate MLK, a month-long program allows us to continue the conversation.” 


Check out these links:

About Trayvon Martin:

About “Stand Your Ground Laws”:

His mother, Sybrina Fulton: