GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated throughout West Michigan in honor of what would have been his 86th birthday.
To carry Dr. King’s message forward, Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton was a keynote speaker at Grand Valley State University Monday.
"Never in my worst nightmare would I have thought my 17-year-old son would have been followed, chased, pursued and murdered, but it happened,” said Fulton.
“I'm not afraid to talk about it, it bothers me, but if I can reach out to one person then I'm going to continue to talk. I'm going to continue to make people aware of what's going on in these United States," Fulton said.
Fulton said her son would have been 20 years old this February. She wore a pin showing Martin’s face, and said she wears it so others will not forget her son. Fulton told FOX 17 that it is not easy to talk about injustice, but in honor of Dr. King, everyone must inspire change.
"I think what people need to do is they need to remember what Dr. King stood for and kind of pattern themselves after Dr. King because Dr. King led a movement,” said Fulton. “Now we have to continue that movement, we have to continue to those dreams."
One of the largest groups marched silently from Grand Rapids Community College through downtown Grand Rapids.
“There are a lot of things that happened because of these marches: allowing minorities to come on campus, as well as the opportunity to get an education,” said Todd Johnson, a GRCC graduate.
“Dr. King spoke about equality and I want my children to understand that message, and again, that there’s more work to be done,” said Jamie Vosovic, a Rockford resident.
To carry Dr. King’s movement forward, Fulton said it takes momentum.
“The very thing that caused my son to lose his life was the color of his skin, and I know it’s uncomfortable, but we have to talk about it,” said Fulton.
There was a powerful moment when Fulton asked the crowd, packed into the GVSU Fieldhouse, to raise their hands if they had lost someone to senseless gun violence. And then she said it takes everyone of all races to stop it.
“I want people to still have hope,” said Fulton.
Fulton was scheduled to speak again Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the GRCC Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, and then again on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. at Davenport University Lettinga Campus at the Sneden Auditorium and Meeting Halls.
For more information on Fulton’s mission see the Trayvon Martin Foundation’s website.