Over two years since her 17-year-old son’s untimely death, Sybrina Fulton is still taking action for social and legal justice. Through the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which she launched in 2012, Fulton hosted a three-day weekend retreat for mothers on how to heal and move on to a happy, productive life after losing a child to violence.
Afeni Shakur, mother of slain rapper Tupac, and motivational speaker Lisa Nichols were featured speakers at the “Circle of Mothers” event last weekend hosted at the Bonaventure Resort & Spa Hotel in Florida. The retreat also included development sessions, women’s empowerment dinner and inspirational service.
Homicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15 to 24 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Black youth also disproportionately account for people under 21 killed by gun violence, according to the CDC.
“I meet a lot of people, travel around the country, and it’s just so many parents, so many mothers that are hurting. They walk up to me, tell me their story and I’m like, 'Oh my God, how do I help? What can I do to help this mother heal?" Fulton told VIBE.
Fulton says helping people in similar situations has advanced her own healing process after George Zimmerman, now 30, shot and killed her unarmed teenaged son.
“I cannot just break down and cry each and every day. I have to pray, I have to stand up, I have to get up and I have to move on and what can I do to help myself and to try to help others,” she shared in an interview.
Nichols, who’s appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” led three intensive sessions to help the grieving mothers celebrate their children’s lives and allow their losses to motivate them throughout the rest of their lives.
“I want mothers to ask themselves, ‘How can I stand on this story, not in this story?” Nichols told ESSENCE. She added her hope for each mother, “She doesn't stand in the experience but she stands on the experience and it becomes her platform and a reason for living full out. Not her reason for not.”
Earlier this year, Fulton also launched a mentoring program to teach young people about their civil rights, particularly when dealing with law enforcement. She and the North Miami Police Department spoke to high school students about responsible decision-making in potentially dangerous situations last month.
(Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)