Two years ago, Sybrina Fulton lost her son, Trayvon Martin, when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. This week, as protestors continue their outcry against the apparent murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Fulton penned a beautiful, powerful letter to the parents of Michael Brown vowing that the deaths of their children would not be purposeless. It’s a missive that shows the incredible strength that humans can generate, even in the most devastating circumstances.
“Our children are our future so whenever any of our children—black, white, brown, yellow, or red—are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing,” Fulton wrote in the letter, which appeared in Time magazine. “Further complicating the pain and loss in this tragedy is the fact that the killer of your son is alive, known, and currently free.”
Fulton addressed the staggering number of children lost to firearms—the second leading cause of death, she explains, for kids under 19 years of age. She told Brown’s family: “I will support you and your efforts to seek justice for your Michael and the countless other Michaels & Trayvons of our country. The 20 Sandy Hook children. Jordan Davis. Oscar Grant. Kendrick Johnson. Sean Bell. Hadya Pendleton. The Aurora shooting victims. The list is too numerous to adequately mention them all.”
“Facts, myths, and flat-out lies are already out there in Michael’s case,” Fulton continued. “My advice is to surround yourselves with proven and trusted support. . .I have always said that Trayvon was not perfect. But no one will ever convince me that my son deserved to be stalked and murdered. No one can convince you that Michael deserved to be executed.”
“But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain,” she continued. “If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light.”
The pain in Fulton’s letter is palpable, but what’s remarkable is that, shining through the words, there is hope. There is hope that the uproar caused by the deaths of two young men will help provoke a sea of change, one in which the color of your skin no longer makes you a criminal suspect, and one in which children aren’t lost to the misuse of firearms. There is courage in her words, and there is something that we all should hear: That even after the news trucks leave and the protests die down, we should never forget Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin, and the system that failed them so drastically.
(Image via Time/Getty)