Florida Memorial University to Award Posthumous Degree to Trayvon Martin


Statement from Florida Memorial University’s Facebook page:

Florida Memorial University (FMU) will hold its university-wide commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. at the FMU Wellness Center Arena. The University will confer upon TRAYVON MARTIN a posthumous degree in Aeronautical Science with a concentration in Flight Education in honor of his love for planes and the steps he took during his young life toward becoming a pilot, including his connection to Barrington Irving (a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Florida Memorial University; in 2007 he was the youngest person and only African American ever to fly solo around the world; http://www.experienceaviation.org/). This bachelor’s degree is designated for students studying to become pilots. Martin’s parents, MS. SYBRINA FULTON (also a FMU graduate) and MR. TRACY MARTIN, will accept the degree on behalf of their son. Fulton and Martin are social justice activists who co-founded The Trayvon Martin Foundation at Florida Memorial University. In their book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin: A Parents’ Story of Love, Injustice, and the Birth of a Movement” (Penguin Random House), Fulton and Martin address Trayvon’s aspirations of becoming a pilot and the camp sessions he took with Mr. Irving.

“As we approach 50 years in Miami Gardens, this commencement holds a special place in all of our hearts. This academic year is symbolic of the transformative changes that we continue to make to our academic programs that extend to benefit the community, such as our Cybersecurity degree program and Cyber Warrior Diversity center that offers certificates to local residents and professionals,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Florida Memorial University. “Of special significance is awarding posthumously the Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation to Trayvon Martin. Sybrina, our alum, epitomizes strength and dignity as she uplifts other victims of violence while effecting change for a more equal and just society.”

The University will also host a post-commencement fundraiser and reception in support of FMU’s Department of Aviation and Safety. Florida Memorial University is also one of four universities in the U.S. that is a designated CESSNA pilot center. The department of Aviation and Safety is chaired by Dr. Arnold Tolbert. The post-commencement fundraiser and reception will also support The Trayvon Martin Foundation, headquartered at FMU. The private reception will take place on campus.

Sybrina Fulton is dedicating her life to transforming family tragedy into social change. Since the death of her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, during the violent confrontation in 2012, Fulton has become an inspiring spokesperson for parents and concerned citizens across the country. The publicity surrounding Trayvon’s death and the ensuing trial catapulted the country into national debate. Despite the intense struggle of losing a child, Fulton has become a role model to many by turning her grief into advocacy. Remaining strong throughout the trial and ensuing months, she lends her voice to speak against violence towards children and the need to build better, safer communities for all.

Her message not only appeals to people’s hearts as it relates to children, but is also one of hope and change, exemplified by her personal experiences and endeavors. As a mother, she inspires audiences to continuously educate their children about civil rights and to help them feel accepted as part of an ever-changing society. An honest and relatable speaker, Fulton always looks forward to sharing her powerful message with everyone, from colleges and legal professionals to community and family organizations, and all other proponents of social justice.
A Miami native, Fulton graduated from Florida Memorial University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. A proud mother, Fulton worked for the Miami-Dade County Housing Development Agency for more than 25 years and is a member of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Miami Gardens. With Tracy Martin, Fulton is the co-author of “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin: A Parents’ Story of Love, Injustice, and the Birth of a Movement.”

Since the 2012 death of his son Trayvon, in a violent confrontation, Tracy Martin has committed his life to transforming tragedy into change. Despite his devastating loss, Martin was able to channel his immeasurable heartache into the immense strength needed to elicit positive change. He now is fighting for the broad societal shift required to ensure that a similar incident never claims the life of another child.

Martin’s message of change extends to families from all walks of life. He encourages parents, relatives, caregivers, and teachers to let their sons, daughters, and other loved ones know that their lives are valuable and to stress that they are loved no matter how society views them. He also emphasizes the dangers of judging a person’s character based solely on their appearance, as represented by his son’s iconic hoodie sweatshirt.

Although his son is gone, Martin hopes his tragic death helps to heal the country, acting as motivation for parents and caregivers to keep fighting for the safety of all children.

Through his thought-provoking speeches, Martin helps foster the necessary conversations that can help keep every family safe from needless violence. By sharing his personal and powerful stories, Martin encourages diverse audiences – from colleges and legal professionals to community and family organizations – to become more educated on ways to keep their loved ones safe and to empower themselves to become catalysts for social change. With Sabrina Fulton, Martin is the co-author of “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin: A Parents’ Story of Love, Injustice, and the Birth of a Movement.”

Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.