By Ayana Archie
The death of her 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin in 2012 left the country reeling, even more so when the Florida man who shot the teenager was acquitted of a second-degree murder charge.
Sybrina Fulton, though, did not let her pain overcome her. She has since become a nationally renowned activist and is culminating her efforts into a race for the District 1 Miami-Dade County Commissioner seat, her first election bid.
“I wanted my life back and this (campaign) is probably the closest I’m going to get to having my life back,” she said. “I don’t want to feel like I lost. I lost my son. I don’t want to lose my life as well.”
Fulton’s opponent, Mayor Oliver Gilbert of Miami Gardens, is serving his second term and is a former council member and assistant district attorney. Fulton says she is not to be underestimated, adding that as a new politician, she can see issues with a fresh perspective.
Fulton plans to focus on crime, but said she also wants to create better services for the elderly, the youth and the working class people of Miami-Dade County, where she was born and raised. Affordable housing and stricter gun laws are also priority issues on her platform.
“I’m going to really just listen to the people and be the voice of the people,” said Fulton. That’s very hard when you’re already a politician.
“A lot of times you’re already in the midst of a lot of things that’s going on. You can’t bring a new vision to the table and new leadership because you’re already a part of it,” she said.
Fulton announced her decision to enter the race in May.
Although she’s never held office, she worked for the county she wishes to represent for 24 years, for several agencies including solid waste, transit, aviation and as a hearing officer in the housing department, a role similar to a judge.
She left her job after Martin’s death.
Fulton is one of many mothers of slain black boys and men to run for office recently. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., was elected in 2018; her son Jordan Davis, like Martin, was shot in 2012 at the age of 17 by a Florida man who alleged Davis’ music was too loud.
Lesley McSpadden, whose 18-year-old son Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Missouri police officer in 2014, lost her run for office in April.
But Fulton is confident. She calls herself “the people’s politician.”