In Chicago, Trayvon Martin’s Parents Reflect On Race And Justice

(CBS) — Five years ago this month, days after his birthday, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a community watch volunteer.

Thursday night, his parents spoke to several hundred people at the Chicago Temple, in the Loop, in the first of two evening appearances in Chicago.

Tracy Martin said his son’s death re-ignited the civil rights movement. But his mother, Sybrina Fulton, said that before he “became a martyr,” Trayvon was a “momma’s boy” who was affectionate, helped out at home, was gregarious and worried about her if she was late returning from work.

Martin said, although divorced, he was always close to his son and had warned him early about the forms that racial bias could take.

Both said they were disappointed by the way Florida prosecutors tried shooter George Zimmerman. They called the trial “biased” and said the criminal justice system remains “off balance.”

“They had the gun, he was changing his story and the lead detective said George Zimmerman was lying. Still, he walked free,” Martin said.

Neither believes their son’s death and others like it have changed Florida’s criminal justice system.

They said police officers must work more closely with the communities they serve. They said the problems are “bigger than Trayvon.”

Asked what Trayvon’s legacy will be, Fulton said it will be a continuing fight for human rights and respect for one another’s religion, race, schooling and sexual preference.

The family still celebrates Trayvon’s birthday, Feb. 6, but say they do not mark the date of his death, Feb. 26.

Martin and Fulton will speak Friday night at the DuSable Museum.

They are touring the country with their memoir, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin,” a reflection on the personal tragedy behind their son’s death and the political transformations he and his parents have inspired.

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