Keynote speakers during Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week charged campus audiences with getting involved in their communities and being active for social change.
Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, spoke to more than 2,000 people in the Fieldhouse on January 19. Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Morehouse College, author and commentator, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd January 21 in the Kirkhof Center.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old in 2012 when he was shot to death in Florida. Fulton has since dedicated her life to transforming family tragedy into social change. She and Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, established the Trayvon Martin Foundation to raise awareness of how violent crime impacts families of victims, and to advocate for those families.
Photo by Bernadine Carey-Tucker
Marc Lamont Hill speaks to an audience in the Kirkhof Center on January 21. Hill urged students to speak up and be involved in their communities.
Photo by Amanda Pitts
Sybrina Fulton addresses a crowd in the Fieldhouse on January 19. Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin, who died in 2012 after he was shot.
Fulton said before Trayvon died, her family lived a regular life in Florida.
“My son wanted the same things your children want,” Fulton said. “He had his flaws and made mistakes, but he was no criminal.”
Fulton recognized that some audience members might feel far removed from gun violence.
“It might be easy to say that this is not my family or my community, but this is what is happening in your country, and you need to participate,” she said. “A lot of these situations are not right. So many things are occurring that stem from senseless gun violence. You cannot remain silent.”
She urged students to get involved in nonprofit organizations and learn about the issues in their communities.
Hill told the Kirkhof Center audience that following the legacy of the civil rights leader is difficult today but can be accomplished.
“The legacy of King calls us to do something else, something more,” Hill said. “The legacy of King is one of social change, but that is especially difficult today when there’s a moment of silence.”
He said one of King’s best skills was listening, something lost in today’s culture.
“We live in a culture where people don’t listen. Everyone is talking and no one is listening,” Hill said.
He is a founding board member of My5th, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young people about their legal rights; Hill also works with the ACLU Drug Reform Project. He earned a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
The week’s events ended January 24, when about 200 students participated in a Day of Service.