FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A group of Broward County students attended a special town hall meeting Wednesday that focused on the death of Trayvon Martin and the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.
The panel included Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton and students were allowed to ask questions and try to find answers to help improve race relations in South Florida.
Akailah Smotherman, 17, was one of the students in attendance. She said when she learned that Zimmerman was found not guilty for the death of Martin, she had a strong response.
“It hurt. I cried; my mama cried; it hurt real bad,” Smotherman told CBS4’s Natalia Zea. “It’s an emotional feeling. It’s a kid. He’s my age. What if that happened to one of my friends, my cousin, my brother. It’s a hurting feeling and I feel for his family.”
Smotherman jumped at the opportunity to attend the town hall meeting which was held at the Whiddon-Rogers Education Center in Fort Lauderdale to hear Trayvon Martin’s mother speak.
Fulton recalled the shooting and said she would do anything to change what happened.
“If I could give my right arm or my left foot to have my son back; I would certainly give them up with ease,” Fulton told the students.
Trayvon’s mother said that she hopes between what happened to him and education, the students will become empowered. She also emphasized the need for students to pay attention to politics and to take part in the government that represents them.
“You have to get out and vote,” Fulton told the students.
Students asked the panel made up of politicians, pastors and police their questions about the case, race relations, and the future of South Florida. Pastor Eddie Moise pointed out that each student is the future of our community.
“If you want to change something you need to position yourself to be at the table,” said Pastor Moise.
It’s a message that resonates with Akailah. She said she has been racially profiled while shopping and instead of complaining about it wants to overcome it. She wants to study criminal justice in college after she graduates this year and hopes her fellow students will also make a positive impact.
“Go to college, go to school, do something with your life,” Akailah said to her fellow students.
Students also asked about the impact Trayvon Martin’s death will have on Florida’s gun laws. A State Representative here said the legislature will re-examine the Stand Your Ground laws later this month, but pointed out that there is no consensus on Capitol Hill on whether the law should be struck down.