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Trayvon Martin’s Mother Starts Conversation about Racism in Utah

Andrea Smardon
Sybrina Fulton at University of Utah's Olpin Student Union Building, Jan. 16, 2014

Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton spoke at the University of Utah today as part of its Martin Luther King celebration week. Fulton called on all Utahns to stand up against racism and injustice in their communities.

Though she has traveled the country, speaking about Trayvon Martin’s death, Sybrina Fulton is still moved to tears when she describes the sight of her 17-year-old son in a coffin - knowing that she will never see the day when he graduates from high school, goes to college, gets married or even votes. But she says her mission now is to save somebody else’s child. She hopes to accomplish that by coming to places like Utah to start conversations about racism. Fulton says what happened to her son many miles away in Sanford, Florida should make Utahns uncomfortable.

“The conversations that we have, yes, they’re uncomfortable, but we need to discuss them. We need to talk about them,” Fulton says. “Don’t think for one second that racial profiling does not happen, don’t think even in your community - here in Salt Lake City - that it does not happen. Racism is still alive. Injustice is still alive.”

Among the hundreds who attended the event was LaVoughn DaWhite of Layton.  She says she’s looking to Fulton for guidance about how to start a dialogue about race and to work for change. She says many people in Utah and around the country fear what they don’t know.

“It’s real life racial profiling happening. I’ve experienced it, and I just wish the conversation would happen and we would put some action behind it.”

DaWhite plans to get involved in the Trayvon Martin Foundation and to take part in an upcoming Martin Luther King Day march in Salt Lake City.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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