They are not the Huxtables. They are divorced. Yet, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton are a beautiful expression of love, parenting and perseverance.
In the face of a tragedy, untold personal stress and worldwide media attention, they have stood together to fight for justice for their son and millions of young boys that look just like him. So many could have and would have cracked under the pressure of losing their child, let alone an ugly national debate on race, guns and politics but Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton have not.
Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton allowed us all to be students of the American judiciary system, walking with them step by step in a drawn out investigation and trial for the murder of their 17 year old son that often felt like he – the victim – was on trial. Beyond lessons the public have learned, or relearned about race, politics and courtroom drama from the State vs Zimmerman case, we have also been dutifully instructed on other valuable lessons from Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton.
1. After a divorce, both parents can play an active role in the care and upbringing of their child(ren). Even in his death, the solidarity shown by Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton in pursuing peaceful justice for the life of their child that was taken from them provides a blueprint for parents to work together for what is best for their child, always.
2. Black women are not angry. Ms. Fulton has suffered the greatest loss that a woman can have, she has buried a child whose life came from her womb. Under intense media scrutiny in numerous interviews and on the witness stand during the murder the trial for her son, she has not raised her voice nor her fist. Throughout this journey she has maintained dignity and grace.
3. Black men love their sons. Although Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton were divorced, Trayvon Martin had a relationship with both of his parents. A small detail that can’t be overlooked about the night that Trayvon Martin was killed that has nothing to do with the trial or verdict but helps create a backdrop for his story is that he was walking to his father’s house. Trayvon’s father hadn’t divorced his mother and left him forever. Trayvon’s father was still present in his life.
Regardless of the stereotypes and media portrayals of Black fathers, Mr. Martin was a Black man who may not have had his son living with him full time, but was still actively involved in raising his Black son. In the months leading up to the trial against George Zimmerman for killing his son Mr. Martin expressed on numerous occasions his fond sentiments about his baby boy. Moments after Zimmerman was found not guilty he took Twitter to say: ‘Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.’ Black men do love and express that love in a multitude of ways. Mr. Martin proved that fact again.
For years to come the Zimmerman case will be debated, the legacy of Trayvon Martin and what he represents will not be forgotten and hopefully, the lessons of Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton will also not be lost.