It was difficult, painful and unnerving to watch Trayvon Martin's case unfold last year. And although we might never recover from the shock of the not guilty verdict, Trayvon's mom, Sybrina Fulton, has made it her mission to move forward and help other mothers heal.
Fulton and the Trayvon Martin Foundation will host a two-day event called the Circle of Mothers Empowerment Retreat, in Miami from May 16-18, with the help of keynote speaker Afeni Shakur. The event will target families that have lost children to senseless gun violence.
May God console the Martins at this time; as well as every other family that's gone through this type of injustice.— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) July 14, 2013
Fulton tells MTV News that Pac's mom understood exactly what she was going through, and now it's time for them to pass along what they've learned to other families in need. "People watched my healing process publicly, but when I was really in bad shape it was not so public," she said.
"I wanted to make sure that not only am I healing properly, but those mothers that are not in the forefront -– the ones that you don't see on the news, in such high profile cases -– that those mothers are receiving the same treatment."
"Mothers become the glue, mothers are the nurturers," she added, explaining why this targets moms specifically. "I wanted to make sure that we are healing properly so we can make sure that our families are healing properly."
Although it would be nearly impossible to get every single mother who has lost a child to gun violence to attend her retreat, Fulton hopes that the attendees will pass along the information when they return home. "I can't do it all, and that's why we call them 'transformation agents' -- because we want them to go back and transform their communities as well," she explained.
"I want to make sure that when these women come together and receive the restoration and healing, [and they're] empowered and equipped, they will go help another mother. Through my travels I've been fortunate enough to talk to groups of people, and I just want to make sure that those mothers are being reached as well."
Fulton has planned a series of classes and workshops that aim to help women come to terms with their tragedy, before they are able to heal and move forward. And it's not just limited to gun violence.
"We want to make sure that [they] know how to overcome those obstacles that happen in life; such as losing a son, losing a job, losing a husband, or losing a house," Fulton revealed. "We want to make sure that we equip ourselves, as moms, to learn how to deal with it and not wait until it happens."
"The mothers that I'm actually bringing together are the mothers that already experienced tragedy. These mothers are broken and I want to help heal them."
Afeni Shakur, Tupac's mother, will be one of those in attendance to help with the healing process. Fulton says that she was moved by an open letter Shakur wrote after Trayvon's death, and always hoped to get her involved.
"[Afeni] wrote a letter and that letter actually touched me," she said. "Even though Tupac died in 1996, and Trayvon died in 2012, she knew exactly how it felt and she knew exactly what to say. She put the words together and I was just amazed -– how could she know? She's all the way in LA, how could she possibly know?"
"I felt that it would not be right to not invite her to the event as a guest speaker. It's the tragedies that connect us, it's the tragedies that are going to help us bond as mothers."
Lisa Nichols, a motivational speaker who Fulton met at an Urban League event, will also be on hand to help. Nichols helped Fulton to deal with emotions and pain she was hiding, and the hope is that she will do the same for other moms in despair.
The first retreat will take place in Miami, but then Sybrina Fulton wants to hit the road and touch mothers in other cities that have also been under siege from gun violence. If everything goes according to her plan, the event will touch down in a new city every three to four months.
And don't worry, the Trayvon Martin Foundation is also working with the fathers out there.
"Tracy, who is Trayvon Martin's father, has a Father's Day event coming up in June, through the foundation," she shared. "Then we're going to switch gears over the summer and do something for the kids. We want to do some mentoring."
"We have a [new] scholarship program, where we're going to give scholarships to students that have been affected by senseless gun violence –- maybe they lost a brother or a sister, we want to give them scholarship money to help out in school."
The Trayvon Martin Foundation also hosts a mentoring program, which provides students with necessary school supplies, in addition to their toy drives and the annual Trayvon Martin Peace Walk and Peace Talk Summit.
The Circle of Mothers Empowerment Retreat will take place in Miami, Florida from May 16-18.