Ep 55: From Grief to Advocacy and a Circle of Mothers with Trayvon Martin’s Mother Sybrina Fulton

I’m honored to bring this special episode of the Mother’s Quest Podcast to you with mother, activist, writer, co-founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation and an inspiration to so many, Sybrina Fulton. 

The episode is the last in a series I’ve recorded for the Women Podcasters in Solidarity Initiative on the subject of gun safety and the intersectional impact of gun violence on our communities. 

Unfortunately, Sybrina deeply knows the grief that comes in the wake of gun violence. But, after the deadly 2012 shooting of her beloved son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, she felt compelled to rise up, literally pushing herself to get out of her bed, becoming the voice for her son and embarking on a journey to bring awareness to senseless gun violence and racial profiling.  

In 2016, Sybrina rallied to the forefront at the Democratic National Convention with a group of African American trailblazing women, connected by tragedy, who became known as “Mothers of the Movement” for the “Black Lives Matter” Movement the death of their children sparked. 

She didn’t stop there. In 2017, Sybrina co-authored her first book, Rest in Power, The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, a memoir recounting the death of her son, which became the subject of a docu-series that debuted this year, Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, produced by hip-hop mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

This intimate conversation, over a year in the making, was a unique opportunity to delve into Sybrina’s own journey, how the E.P.I.C. guideposts show up in her life and in her activism, and to hear her powerful call to action to invest in mothers, by reaching out to mothers grieving in our own communities and by contributing to her “Circle of Mothers,” a labor of love that came to her in her dreams. 

I’m grateful to activist Michael Skolnik, who dedicated this episode, for connecting me to Sybrina and for inviting us to spread this conversation far and wide and direct resources to help mothers turn their grief into healing and advocacy, following Sybrina’s powerful example. 

It costs $1500 to sponsor a grieving mother to attend Circle of Mothers. Michael and I have each pledged the first $3,000 to a GoFundMe campaign, each of us contributing $1500 to help a mother who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. I hope you’ll open your hearts and minds to Sybrina’s story, visit www.mothersquest.com/circleofmothers and join us in contributing to her mission. 

Much appreciation, 

P.S. Know someone who you think would appreciate this special episode? Share this conversation!

This Episode is Dedicated by:
Michael Skolnik

Michael Skolnik was recently profiled in the NY Times and identified as “the man you go to if you want to leverage the power of celebrity and the reach of digital media to soften the ground for social change.” But, besides all of that, he is most proud to be the father of Mateo Ali, a rambunctious five year old. 

He is the co-founder and partner of The Soze Agency, a social impact agency that partners with companies, non-profits, foundations and movements to create campaigns that uplift compassion, authenticity and equity.

He is a respected leader in the new social justice movement, and has helped ignite conversations around America’s relationship with race, the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, and the Obama and Trump presidencies.

He is a prolific voice on social media with more than 350,000 followers, and a regular commentator on outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

Michael serves on the Board of Directors for Rock The Vote, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, Policy Link, The Gathering For Justice and The Young Partners Board of The Public Theater.

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Learn more about Michael Skolnik: https://about.me/michaelskolnik

In This Episode We Talk About:

  • What Sybrina wishes everyone would know about approaching a conversation with a mother who has lost a child.
  • My 14 year old son’s question to Sybrina about what it feels like when your calling and the powerful work you’re doing is sparked by a tremendous loss.
  • Why we need systemic and cultural change, and more awareness-raising conversations, to keep young people of color safe from racial profiling.
  • The tragic death of Chinedu Okobi, an unarmed young black man who was tasered to death by San Mateo County deputies, just 20 minutes from my own home.
  • The importance for grieving mothers to remember the things that they used to love and what Sybrina’s joyful outlet is
  • The Circle of Mothers and how the idea to create it came to Sybrina in a dream.
  • Sybrina’s challenge for all of us to open our hearts and to reach out to mothers, across differences, who have lost their child to let them know we care.
  • Why investing in mothers is the most powerful lever to impact gun control.

Resources and Topics Mentioned:

Other Mother’s Quest Episodes in This Series on Gun Safety: 

And in Last Year’s Series on Anti-Racism and Police Accountability:

This Week’s Challenge:

For this week’s challenge, Sybrina asks us to reach out to a mother who has lost a child and be a support to them. Take them out, let them know you are here, organize something for a group. Let them know that they are not alone. 

You can also show your support, and invest in the healing of mothers who can lead the way forward, by contributing directly to the GoFundMe campaign and sponsor mothers to attend this year’s Circle of Mothers event. We have a goal to raise $15,000 and send 10 mothers, at $1,500 per person, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. 

CLICK HERE to contribute to the Campaign

Special thanks to Alaura Weaver of WordWeaver Freelance for helping with the copy for the GoFundMe page.

Learn More About Sybrina Fulton:

After the death of her beloved son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, in February 2012, Sybrina Fulton was charged with a new mission. A desire to transform family tragedy into social change allowed her to establish the Trayvon Martin Foundation in March 2012.

As Fulton traverses the globe, she passionately embarks on a journey designed to bring awareness to senseless gun violence and serves as an advocate to families, the catalyst for her dream project, the “Circle of Mothers.” Winning the national support of president-elect Hillary Clinton, Fulton rallied to the forefront in 2016 at the Democratic National Convention with a cadre of African American trailblazing women known as “Mothers of the Movement.” The women, connected by tragedy, are the inspiration behind the “Black Lives Matter.”

In 2017, Fulton co-authored her first book, Rest in Power, The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, a memoir recounting the death of her son, and the subject of a six-part docuseries, Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, produced by hip-hop mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter for Paramount Network and BET (July 2018).

Bestowed with many distinguished awards, Sybrina Fulton has represented the United States at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss racial discrimination; the National Urban League, Black Lives Matter, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, The Triumph Awards (2016), Essence Festival & Conference (2017, 2018), and was selected as the White House’s guest of honor for the unveiling of former President Barak Obama’s initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.” Fulton is also one of the 2018 recipients of VH1’s Trailblazer Honor Award.

A Miami native and graduate of Florida Memorial University, Sybrina Fulton, along with her son, Jahvaris, are on a mission to build better, safer communities. She is a proud member of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Metropolitan Dade County Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

She created the Circle of Mothers as a way to empower women. The purpose of the Circle of Mothers is to bring together mothers who have lost children or family members to senseless gun violence for the purpose of healing, empowerment, and fellowship towards the larger aim of community building. 

Connect with Sybrina at: Facebook Twitter Instagram
www.circleofmothers.org
www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org

Announcements:

Support the Circle of Mothers GoFundMe Campaign

As of December of 2018, 644 children and 2,729 teens have been killed by gun violence in the US this year. If you feel  pain at the loss of so many young lives full of promise, imagine the devastating grief experienced by the mothers they’ve left behind.

On May 16, 2014, Sybrina embarked on a powerful call to action to support and invest in mothers, by reaching out to mothers grieving in our communities. The Circle of Mothers, an annual retreat for women who have lost a child to senseless gun violence, was born. 

It costs $1,500 to sponsor a mother who would otherwise not be able to participate in Circle of Mothers. Activist Michael Skolnik and I have pledged the first $3,000 of this $15,000 campaign, 2 toward our goal of 10 women we hope to send. 

I pray that one day we won’t need The Circle of Mothers, because we’ve brought an end to gun violence in the US and no more mothers will have to grieve the theft of their children’s lives.  

Until then, I hope you’ll open your hearts and minds to Sybrina’s story, lift up grieving mothers who seek healing, and invest in them to lead the way forward.

Support the Campaign

 
Women Podcasters in Solidarity

Tragically, I have now lost count of the number of mass shootings have taken place just in the time since the Women Podcasters in Solidarity selected “gun safety” as the issue we want to shine a light on this season.

Grateful to partner with Cristin Marie and Elsie Escobar on bringing this season of the Initiative to life. It is my deepest hope that through the power of podcasting, the episodes we will record, the conversations we will share with our listeners, and the dollars we will collectively raise toward gun safety causes, will save lives.

Please take a look at Cristin’s post here and say “yes” to the Initiative yourself or help spread the word to reach other podcasters who would want to join.

Mother’s Quest Circle

If you’re on a quest to live an E.P.I.C. life, but you’ve been feeling challenged, isolated, or unsure of the path ahead, the Virtual Mother’s Quest Circle may be the source of connection you’re looking for.

The Mother’s Quest Circle provides inspiration, coaching and community for an intimate group of no more than 8 women who are ready to say “yes” to:

✨Reflect together, in a community of like-minded mothers, on what matters most
✨To consciously live their version (not someone else’s) of an E.P.I.C. life
✨To take bold action toward one of the E.P.I.C. life guideposts before the end of the sessions
✨To hold space for sharing, coaching, and championing one another so we are “in community” on our journey

If you’re looking to start the year strong, the Circle is a great way to make an investment in yourself and what matters most to you. Apply here to add your name to the wait list.

Learn More

Acknowledgements:

A big THANK YOU to our “patrons” for helping to bring these conversations to myself and other mothers through financial and/or in-kind support:

Michael Skolnik
Helgi Maki
Kari Azuma
Tamara Sobomehin
Katie Krimitsos
Carrie Caulfield Arick
Rachel Rosen
Chandra Brooks
Jen Simon
Monisha Vasa
Celia Ward-Wallace
Vanessa Couto
Desiree Adaway
Rachel Steinman
Katie Hanus
Denise Barreto 
Sage B. Hobbs 
Samantha Nolan-Smith
Jody Smith
Emily Cretella
Collette Flanagan
Titilayo Tinubu Ali 
Carly Magnus Hurt
Lizzy Russinko 
Suzanne Brown
Mara Berns Langer
Mallory Schlabach 
Katharine Earhart
Jessica Kupferman
Jen Jenkins Dohner
Genese Harris
Tonya Rineer
Liane Louie-Badua
Cristin Downs 
Erin Kendall 
Niko Osoteo 
Erik Newton 
Claire Fry
Divya Silbermann
Rachel Winter
Caren and Debbie Lieberman
Cameron Miranda
Fran and David Lieberman
Debbie and Alan Goore
The Sustainable Living Podcast

Support the Podcast

If you’d like to make a contribution to Mother’s Quest to support Season Three of the Podcast and/or help provide coaching scholarships for mothers, follow this link to make a contribution.

If you would like to “dedicate” an upcoming episode to a special mother in your life, email me at julie@mothersquest.com

 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. lifeEngaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

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