The parents of Trayvon Martin entered the room to a standing ovation.
The waves of applause marked the bittersweet beginning of the inaugural "We Remember Trayvon" dinner, held in honor of the 17-year-old who was killed last Feb. 26. The Feb. 10 event was a fundraiser for the Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation, launched by his parents.
Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, talked about why the foundation had become her mission.
“I asked God, ‘why me?’ ” Fulton said. “God replied, ‘why not you?’ I knew that I had a job to do through all of this.”
This unwanted job began a year ago when Fulton’s son was shot in the chest by George Zimmerman, a Sanford neighborhood watch member. Trayvon was visiting his father, Tracy Martin, who lived in the townhouse community with his girlfriend.
The family’s plea for an arrest brought national attention including marches in Sanford and cities across the country. Zimmerman would later claim self-defense, citing the “Stand Your Ground” law. A hearing on this defense is scheduled for April.
Through the foundation, the family says it will rally against violent crimes involving young people, launch campaigns to support this cause and advocate for civil rights. The Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation is raising money under the auspices of the Miami Foundation.
More than 250 guests came to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center to show their support for the foundation, including many of Trayvon’s family and friends as well Oscar and Grammy winner Jamie Foxx, comedian Cedric the Entertainer and radio show host Michael Baisden.
Foxx even sang Happy Birthday to the Miami Gardens teenager, who would have turned 18 years old two weeks ago. Foxx also offered his thoughts about controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.
“We don’t want to put the law in anybody’s hand. We have police officers for that,” Foxx said. “So to have that type of law is kind of irresponsible. This can happen to anybody, of any color, of any race.”
Local politicians who attended include Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Miami Dade School Board members Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and Wilbert "Tee" Holloway, and former Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson.
The event marked the conclusion of a weekend celebrating the life of Trayvon. It began with the “I Am Trayvon” remembrance peace walk held at Ives Estates Park in North Miami-Dade on Feb. 9.
Civil Rights activists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who were among the leaders who led the national cause, were honored during the Sunday dinner. Neither was able to attend because of a blizzard along the East Coast. Syndicated columnist and television commentator Roland Martin hosted the semi-formal event.
Cedric the Entertainer told the crowd that he will stand with the family in their fight for justice.
“We are here locally to help keep that fire burning with the people,” the comedian said. “We were all fired up about it when it first happened; we want that energy, that same zest.’’