The National Bar Association’s 26th Wiley A. Branton Symposium, hosted by N.C. Central University’s School of Law on Oct. 2 was not deterred by the rain or the storm watch warnings for Hurricane Joaquin. The turnout was standing room only.
Trayvon Martin was the backdrop for a free wheeling discussion about the importance of voting and its role promoting change.
The NBA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association for African-American lawyers, judges, educators and law students.
The topic of the 2015 Wiley A. Branton Symposium was “One NBA – Preserving Our Legacy, Protecting Our Future Through Voting Rights.” There were four scheduled events. The Civil justice Town Hall Meeting addressed police brutality, mental health issues, economic empowerment and more. Two events were question and answer sessions with panelists and celebrity moderator Sheryl Underwood and MC Ed Gordon.
The first panel — The Trayvon Martin Voter: Making An Impact During the Process and at the Polls — began with Congresswoman Alma Adams answering Ed Gordons’s question, “Why do you think that people have to understand what that one vote means?” Congresswoman Alma Adams explained that power of the vote and how it impacts communities.
“One vote is important not just for the presidential election but in every election,” said Adams. “If you are absent from this process and not involved in helping to elect, who is going to make those decisions for you. You’re doing yourself a disservice.”
Adams represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional and was the 100th woman elected to Congress. She has a record for her work in the legislature process.
Among the panelist of judges and lawyers, was Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. Martin was the young black man that was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a self-described neighborhood watchman in a town in Florida in 2012. Zimmerman charged and acquitted in the death of Martin.
“I was depressed, and cried all the time. I felt powerless, but one day through God, I decided I could do more,” said Fulton.“I did not realize the impact on people’s lives. A lot of times we don’t understand how our voice makes an impact on other people.”
Fulton said she will vote absentee voter … but will vote. She said she does her homework before voting.
“It makes a difference,” she said. “There’s a part in this for everybody. There’s a place in this fight for everybody.”