- (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
A megachurch in Baltimore, Md., had an emotional service Sunday as Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, hugged each parent whose children had been victims of "senseless violence."
At least a dozen women and men stood before the altar after the Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant of the Empowerment Temple church asked for anyone whose child had also been the victim of "senseless violence," The Baltimore Sun reported.
The congregation wiped tears and applauded when Fulton tightly embraced each mother, grandmother and father, and whispered in the ears of some.
Fulton was visiting the church to meet the thousands in the congregation who supported her family in demanding justice for her 17-year-old son, who was fatally shot in Florida in February.
"If it was your child you would not want it swept under the rug," Bryant, a former NAACP youth director, was quoted as telling the congregation. "Cheer for them like their child's memory will not be in vain."
The Feb. 26 killing of Martin, who was unarmed, by a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, led to protests around the country. Zimmerman, who faces a second-degree murder charge, was not charged initially as he said he acted in self-defense.
Pastor Bryant was among the numerous pastors and Christian leaders who stood up to demand justice for Martin soon after the incident. Bryant has known Fulton and the victim's father, Tracy Martin, since then. "They were amazed that someone from Baltimore thought that much of them to come," he said. "I had no idea it would come to the national stage."
"At the beginning, Pastor Bryant was there to help support this family ... telling them that God [doesn't] make mistakes and there will be justice," Fulton's attorney, Ben Crump, stated, according to the local publication.
Fulton said she was not just working for her son. "I'm working on behalf of other kids, their futures, and I'm fighting for them."
Bryant introduced Fulton to the congregation as "the mother of the new civil rights movement" and "this generation's Rosa Parks."
"It's so easy for me to cry right now, but I can't because I have work to do," Fulton told the church. "I was forced into this position, but I believe God is using me."