It is expected to be a gathering as notable as it is distinctive, a historic collection of women convening in southern Florida to offer each other encouragement and solace.
The Trayvon Martin Foundation is hosting a weekend retreat for mothers who have lost children to gun violence and will bring together women whose families have been in the news as well as those whose losses have been less public.
“This is what I call the circle of mothers and the foundation is bringing together mothers from all over the United States who have lost a child to senseless gun violence,” said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, in an interview with BET.com.
“We’re going to be in the same room together and have a weekend of helping each other, of hugging each other and of encouraging each other,” she said.
The Circle of Mothers Empowerment Retreat will take place this coming weekend in Weston, Florida, and will include two days of workshops and classes aimed at equipping the women to cope with their losses and to enhance the process of healing.
The keynote speaker for the weekend will be Afeni Shakur, the mother of Tupac Shakur, the rap superstar who was killed by gunfire in 1996. She is currently founder and chief executive of Amaru Entertainment, a record and film production company, as well as the founder of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation.
Fulton said her goal is to see the participants return to their communities with the intention of making a difference for other mothers in similar circumstances.
“My message to these mothers is to go back into your communities and help another mother,” Fulton said. “I really want to see them make a difference in the lives of other mothers who have been affected by gun violence.”
Fulton’s son, Trayvon, was shot in a gated community in a suburb of Orlando two years ago while walking unarmed to the home of his father’s girlfriend. He was carrying a can of iced tea and a bag of candy when he was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in a case that attracted international attention. Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder in the death of Martin.
Since then, Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, started the Trayvon Martin Foundation to address issues related to gun violence.
Fulton said that she has developed relationships with the families of many young people who were killed by gun violence. In particular, the family has become close to the families of Jordan Davis, Hadiya Pendleton and Kendrick Johnson as well as the family of Emmett Till. Many of their mothers are expected to participate in the weekend events, she said.
“This gives an opportunity for us to bond as mothers,” Fulton said. “I think that whenever we get together, we have the opportunity to inspire each other. I believe I can feel their spirit and how they are trying to pull through their difficult period. But I think that there is something about encouragement that is contagious. I’m looking forward to it being a great weekend.”
Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan
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(Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)