Tracy Martin, left, speaks about the death of his son Trayvon, with WURD 900 AM morning talk show host Solomon Jones, last month.

— Tribune Photo by Samaria Bailey

Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, recounted the memory of his son before and after his death during a discussion with WURD’s Solomon Jones, at “Letters to Trayvon,” a social awareness event organized by Mission Inc. in partnership with the Black Male Development Symposium, on Feb 28.

The discussion was held two days after the third anniversary of Martin’s death and came four days after the Department of Justice announced it would not file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the white Hispanic man who fatally shot the unarmed Martin.

“What’s troubling about his death was in his time of need, I wasn’t there,” Martin said. “That has an effect on you no matter how strong you are.”

Throughout the discussion, Martin described the relationship with his son as close-knit from the time he was born and even after he and Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, divorced.

“From the moment I really got to embrace him, I knew he was a part of me,” Martin said. “From early on, we built a friendship.”

Martin shared that Trayvon saved him from a house fire, when he was age 9.

The lower part of his body was burned, forcing him into shock, and Trayvon had to drag him out of the house, after which he even managed to save the dog.

“It was amazing,” Martin said. “Trayvon was my hero. He saved my life.”

With his son gone, and Zimmerman free of legal liability in the murder — on the state and federal level — Martin said the only way to get justice for Trayvone now is to “save the Black and brown youth.”

“I am disappointed in the state of Florida because it shouldn’t ever have gotten to the Department of Justice,” Martin said. “The justice system was made a mockery of.”

Martin added, “We need to get [urban youth] to understand that their lives have value.”

Through the Trayvon Martin Foundation, Martin said he and Fulton “advocate against racial profiling, senseless gun violence and to get laws overturned that [don’t] work for us.”

State Sen. Vincent Hughes, who attended the program, said Martin has set a powerful example with such work.

“I’ve got to applaud this brother,” he said. “[Martin] has made the decision to turn his pain into power.”

Funds raised from the Letters to Trayvon campaign will be donated to the foundation.

“This [campaign] is our way of saying, ‘We have not forgotten,’” said Lawanda Horton, Mission Inc. founder. “This program is to respond to the attack on Black men and boys.”

Before Martin’s discussion with Jones, a photo exhibit of positive images of Black men — in the church, playing instruments and with family — were on display, along with artwork.

OG-LAW, a social activist, performed a rap/spoken word piece centered on the plight of urban youth; and a step team from Imhotep Charter School used its step routine to send a message about the historic Emmett Till death and modern day attacks on Black male youth.

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