Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, is running for political office
Sybrina Fulton, an African-American mother who became a social justice activist after the 2012 fatal shooting of her son, Trayvon Martin, is running for political office in Florida.
Fulton formally announced her candidacy Monday for a seat for the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners.
“At first, I didn’t want to be the voice for Trayvon after he died but I decided I have no choice. Now, I’m called to act, and called to serve,” Fulton, an activist against gun violence, said in a roughly two minute video posted on her Instagram account. “It became clear to me there’s an opportunity to turn our family’s tragedy into something positive for many other families.”
“It took my son being shot down in order for me to stand up. But I’m standing now,” she said in the video that featured images of her slain son.
In a Sunday Instagram post, she wrote that her time as a public servant in the county began three decades ago and she referenced her activism since over the past seven years. “Since 2012, I have advocated tirelessly to empower our communities and make them safer,” Fulton said in the Instagram post. “But the work is not done.”
The commission seat Fulton is seeking will be vacant in 2020 after term limits will prevent current District 1 Commissioner Barbara Jordan from running again. Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III is also running to fill the seat, CNN affiliate WSVN reported.
Fulton, a Miami-Dade County native who lives in Miami Gardens, was not available for an interview Sunday, according to her campaign manager, Willis Howard.
“This is where she lives, this is where she grew up, this is where her family lives. All politics is local,” he said. “It’s the type of leadership I think this area has been asking for.”
Howard said Fulton has been thinking about running for the seat for some time.
“I guess she had to wait till it got right with her mind and heart about being more of an advocate and actually being the leadership that you want, and the leadership you wanted,” Howard said.
That decision to run was solidified several weeks ago after she she gave a speech to the National Action Network about getting involved in communities through advocacy, marching and sometimes seeking public office to seek change, according to Howard.
“When she said that statement, she kind of felt like it was talking to herself,” Howard said.
Fulton, who graduated from Florida Memorial University, has worked for Miami-Dade County in various areas, including housing.
Howard said she will focus on issues such as economic development, attaining more workforce housing and affordable housing and curbing gun violence.
Fulton also wants to be involved in the Miami-Dade Police Department’s transition to a sheriff’s office to help write legislation “on how that sheriff’s department looks, how it acts and how it treats its citizens,” according to Howard.
In February 2012, former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman killed Fulton’s son, Trayvon, in Sanford, north of Orlando. The unarmed 17-year-old, who lived with his mother in Miami Gardens, was visiting his father, Tracy Martin.
The teenager’s death spurred a national movement and gave rise to a rallying cry that resonates with many today: “#BlackLivesMatter.”
Martin’s death also inspired then-President Barack Obama to deliver a heartfelt message to Martin’s parents, saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
After public pressure, including rallies nationwide, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in April 2012.
In July 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted, igniting protests.
After her son’s death, Fulton created the The Trayvon Martin Foundation with Trayvon’s father “out of a need to bring awareness to ending senseless gun violence,” according to the non-profit’s website. The two also co-authored “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.”
In 2016, Fulton endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, calling the former secretary of state the candidate best positioned to “stand up to inaction from Republicans and indifference from the NRA” on gun control.
Fulton is one several African-American mothers who have turned to social activism and politics to bring about changes they envision after their sons were fatally shot.
Earlier this year, Lesley McSpadden, whose son, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the city council of the St. Louis suburb.
Gun control activist Lucy McBath, whose 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed by a white man in 2012 after a dispute over loud music, was elected to Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in November.
Howard said Fulton has been inspired by McBath and also by the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who became advocates for gun control.
CNN’s Devan Cole and Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.