Tag Archive | Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin’s mom to speak at West Michigan colleges to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

fultonSybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, holds up a card with a photo of her son when she spoke at the National Urban League’s annual conference on July 26, 2013 in Philadelphia. Sybrina Fulton will speak at Grand Valley’s Fieldhouse Arena on January 19, the federal holiday commemorating the life of slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She will also speak that evening at Grand Rapids Community College, and on January 20 at Davenport University.Matt Rourke/ AP

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin – whose fatal shooting in 2012 sparked a nationwide debate and protests over racial profiling – will speak in January at programs celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Davenport University.

Fulton has become an activist since her 17-year-old son’s shooting in Florida that provoked widespread discussion about “stand your ground” laws.

Martin was killed by an armed volunteer neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, who was later acquitted of second-degree murder charges. Fulton established the Trayvon Martin Foundation to raise awareness of how violent crime impacts families of victims, and to support and advocate for those families.

Fulton will speak first at Grand Valley’s Fieldhouse Arena at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, the federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader. She will join GRCC for its 29th year anniversary celebrating King’s life at 6:30 p.m. in the GRCC Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, speaking on the theme “Empowering Our Youth.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 20, she will speak at 10 a.m. at Davenport University at the Sneden Center on the W.A. Lettinga Campus in Grand Rapids.

The colleges collaborate annually on the keynote speaker for the holiday. All King events on the campuses are free and open to the public.

Tracy Martin, left, and Sybrina Fulton, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, arrive in court for the first day of the trial of George Zimmerman, accused in the fatal shooting of their son. The photo was taken June 10, 2013 in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla.Joe Burbank/ The Orlando Sentinel

Fulton earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida Memorial University and worked for the Miami-Dade County Housing Development Agency for more than two decades.

Grand Valley’s commemoration of King’s life and legacy will run January 19-24. A second speaker, Marc Lamont Hill, CNN contributor, author and activist, will speak at the Kirkhof Center on Wednesday, January 21. The time is still being determined. For more information about GVSU activities that week, visit the website.

Monica Scott is the Grand Rapids K-12 education writer. Email her atmscott2@mlive.com and follow her on Twitter @MScottGR or Facebook

OKT peer educator, Sheri Munsell, helps organize march for Trayvon Martin

This is reposted from GRIID.org 

Trayvon just the most recent victim of a racist system of power is message of march in Grand Rapids

APRIL 8, 2012

Yesterday, about 50 people marched in downtown Grand Rapids to denounce the murder of Trayvon Martin and to stand in solidarity with his family and all those who have been recent victims of racist violence.

People gathered at a small storefront space, which is home to Take Hold Church. The two women responsible for organizing the march then addressed the crowd.

Sheri Munsell spoke first and talked about how the murder of Trayvon impacted her emotionally. She said she kept thinking that Trayvon looked just like her nephew all grown up and it made her fear for his future.

Sheri then went on to say that Trayvon’s murder should be a wake up call to all of us to not stand by in the future and let this kind of violence happen to our brothers and sisters. She said we needed to stop the so-called justice system from profiling and abusing communities of color.

Sheri also acknowledged that Trayvon’s murder was just the most recent in a long list of people, primarily young black men, who have been shot or beaten to death by police officers around the country. This is a theme that many writers and organizations have been communicating in recent weeks.

Sheri was followed by April Bert, who began her comments by quoting the poet Maya Angelo. April said that Trayvon represents so many who have been victims of a racist system of oppression, but he also represents the past, the present and the future of what we want to be.

After the opening remarks by the organizers, people marched down Division to the Kent County Court House. Along the way people chanted and carried signs. At one point several other people joined the march and one man and his son joined even though they were not aware of the action, but joined because as he said, “it was the right thing to do with my son.”

Once the group arrived at the Kent County Court House, Rev. Paul Mayhue said a prayer and then continued to address the crowd. Mayhue acknowledged that there was a great deal of injustice happening in the US, but he put the emphasis of his comments on the importance of working within the system. Mayhue challenged those in the crowd to run for political office and judicial seats so that they could make the right decisions when faced with racist and violent actions in our community. In light of what has been happening with violence against communities of color and the lack of any real justice, Mayhue’s comments seem to contradict what had been said by Sheri Munsell before the march even started.

Cole Dorsey, with the IWW, followed up those comments by saying that he was not only encouraged by the fact that people came out for the march, but that it was grassroots organizing and mobilizing of people that can make real change and create real justice. “When we organize together, we can challenge the system,” said Dorsey. He also mentioned that the Prison Industrial Complex disproportionately targets and punishes communities of color, which should tell us something about how the system is corrupt and that we shouldn’t wait for elected officials to make the changes that we want.

The last person to address those who marched was Rev. Fred Wooden, pastor at Fountain St. Church. Rev. Wooden framed his comments within the theme of the Jewish Passover and made three points. First, he said that we all need to be willing to move when injustice confronts us, but he also acknowledged that this kind of change would require a cost to all of us. Second, he said that we should not be deceived by those who wish to control us and that we should expect that deception will occur. Lastly, he said that need to challenge those if power, which means we need to challenge the system if we want real liberation.

The group than walked back to where the march started, with lively conversation and a second opportunity to communicate to those walking or driving by that indeed there were some people in this community who were not going to remain silent about the murder of Trayvon Martin.