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Martin-inspired group helps mothers with trauma

Helping others: murder victim Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, enter the courtroom during George Zimmerman’s trial in Sanford, Florida in 2014 (Photograph by Gary W Green/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

The mother of Trayvon Martin, whose fatal shooting sparked the international Black Lives Matter movement, is in Bermuda providing hope to grieving mothers.

Sybrina Fulton is speaking at a private three-day event organised by the family of 20-year-old Bermudian Jahcari Francis, who was shot dead last July.

Mr Francis’s family secured Ms Fulton as a speaker having collaborated with the Trayvon Martin Foundation when purchasing a copy of a book by Ms Fulton and Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin.

They later set up a fund in their own son’s memory, called The Cari Foundation.

The Cari Foundation wrote in a letter shared with The Royal Gazette: “As a family adapting to the new reality of the deceased, the notion of healing was unfathomable.

“With the purchase of Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, we found a place to start the journey.”

Mr Francis’s family attended one of Ms Fulton’s Circle of Mothers events in May, and witnessed first hand the transformation of mothers who had lost their children through causes including gun violence and road crashes. Since her son’s death, Ms Fulton has dedicated her life to effecting social change and helping those who are enduring family tragedy.

Her son was killed in 2012 by neighbourhood watch member George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.

The 17-year-old high school student was unarmed and was on an errand for his father when Zimmerman defied instructions from a 911 dispatcher and confronted him, resulting in a fight.

Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder, having claimed self-defence, based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.

As a result, protests broke out across the United States, focusing on issues including race, power and gun control.

In 2017, Ms Fulton co-wrote her book and then produced a documentary series Rest in Power: The Story of Trayvon Martin.

The Miami native is a graduate of Florida Memorial University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and she has worked for the Miami Dade County Housing Development Agency for more than 25 years.

Ms Fulton told Elle magazine when she launched the Circle of Mothers events in 2014: “When I went through my journey, there was no sorority of mothers who said, ‘We’re here to support you, to guide you’. My dream had a purpose — not only to help me heal, but to help other mothers heal as well.”

The Cari Foundation wrote: “The idea was mentioned to the host team to bring this endeavour to Bermuda. The Cari Foundation was founded as a result of the instructions and intention of the event to go back to Bermuda and make a change. Here we stand today.”

The first of the Circle of Mothers events is to be held at a private location today, tomorrow and Sunday. Ms Fulton will speak about the fatal shooting of her son and how it has impacted not only her family but America as a whole.

A partnership with the Bermuda Community Foundation has been established and the Cari Foundation falls under that charity as the “Cari Foundation Program Fund”.

The Cari Foundation concluded: “We are now seeking partnerships and sponsorships with local establishments to make this change.

“Future plans involve events for fathers and siblings managing and coping with the loss of their loved ones next year.”

The Cari Foundation screened the first in a documentary film series last week charting the story of Trayvon Martin and at the Bermuda Industrial Union Hall. Ms Fulton is also understood to have visited Dellwood Middle School to speak with students.