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Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, holding a photo of her son, is shown speaking at the National Urban League’s annual conference in 2013. She and Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, have collaborated to write “Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.” | Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Mitchell: Trayvon Martin’s parents move to keep his legacy alive

SHARE Mitchell: Trayvon Martin’s parents move to keep his legacy alive
SHARE Mitchell: Trayvon Martin’s parents move to keep his legacy alive

Follow @MaryMitchellCSTTragically, murdered black children have become symbols representing the injustices in the world.

We know their faces: Hadiya Pendleton and the senseless nature of street violence; Laquan McDonald and police brutality; and Trayvon Martin and racial profiling.

What we forget, however, is that behind the symbol are parents who will never see their beloved daughter or son again.

Such is the fate of Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon was 17 when he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a self-styled neighborhood watchman who had stalked the teen through a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

Trayvon, who was wearing a hoodie, was unarmed and returning from a store carrying a bag of skittles and a can of fruit juice.

OPINION

Follow @MaryMitchellCSTThe fatal encounter shed light on Florida’s “stand-your-ground-law,” that allows persons who claim to fear for their lives to use deadly force against a perceived threat.

Trayvon’s death sparked protests by ordinary citizens and civil rights activists across the country. And with the help of a brilliant legal team and social media campaign, Trayvon’s parents were successful in getting Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

But 17 months later, a jury found Zimmerman “not guilty,” on all charges and he walked out of the courtroom a free man.

It was a crushing blow.

Fulton and Martin have not given up the fight to raise awareness of the flaws in the criminal justice system that led to this acquittal.

Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, is shown speaking in St. Louis in 2014. He has collaborated with his ex-wife on a book about their son. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, is shown speaking in St. Louis in 2014. He has collaborated with his ex-wife on a book about their son. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

They have penned a stirring book, “Rest in Power: The enduring life of Trayvon Martin,” published by Spiegel & Grau, that takes readers on their pursuit of justice that was a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Who was Trayvon Martin? I’ve been asked that question a million times since his death. In death, Trayvon Martin became a martyr and a symbol of racial injustice, a name and a face on T-shirts, posters and protest signs,” Fulton writes.

“When he was alive, of course, he was none of those things. He was simply a boy, growing into a young man, with all the wonder and promise and struggle that journey entails,” she said.

The divorced couple presented a united front in the face of this horrific tragedy, and joined forces to tell their son’s story.

They write alternating chapters explaining the pain and the glory that gave birth to this new movement.

But at the heart of the book is an earnest expression of every black parent’s fear.

“As parents, we all too well know the everyday worrying about our children. Now that worrying has been amplified by our children being shot and killed, and nobody is being held accountable,” Fulton told Vanity Fair in a recent interview.

The parents retraced the steps they took to “put a face” to their son’s story and give it an emotional life.

Although it was said that the family purposely chose a photograph of Trayvon that made him appear younger, Martin denies that was the intent.

They chose the photo that was “easily accessible” in their time of grief,” the father wrote.

“The one that would turn out to be published the most was the picture of him in his red Hollister T-shirt. … We simply provided the media with photographs that we had access to and they chose what they wanted to run,” he said.

On February 26, 2012, Trayvon was an “unknown teenager.

Today he is a martyr of a cause that has been going on since black people first arrived in America.

Join me for two conversations with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, hosted by The Chicago Humanities Festival, on Thursday Feb. 16 and Friday, Feb. 17. Go to chicagohumanities.org for times and locations.

Tweets by @MaryMitchellCST

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