More than 60 students, bikers and pedestrians paused near Tommy Trojan Wednesday night to participate in the Trayvon Martin-Jordan Davis Candlelight Vigil hosted by the Black Student Assembly.
The event was organized to remember black men, women and youth who have been victims of violence, particularly in cases when race played a part. During the vigil, 12 people from the crowd read the stories of black men and women who were killed in the United States, a list that spans the past 70 years. A candle was lit next to the victims’ pictures on the steps of Tommy Trojan.
“I hear about these stories all the time,” said De’Ron Marques, a BSA executive board member. “We want to have others take note of these deaths and hope that people outside of this community take light of the situation.”
BSA Executive Director Ama Amoafo-Yeboah said she was overwhelmed by the cross-cultural support the event received and believed it raised the necessary awareness of the reality facing minority youth.
“Tonight really helped to highlight all the victims of violence,” Yeboah said. “But unfortunately this is only a small percentage of people who died everyday.”
The list of people included George Stinney, who at 14-years-old became the youngest person to be executed in the United States since the 1800s, and Ayanna Stanley Jones, a 7-year-old who was shot in the head during a police raid on her house. The most recent cases were 17-year-olds Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis in Florida, who have received national attention in the media.
Many participants said they felt honored to be part of the event to raise awareness for these crimes. Josh Carroll, a junior majoring in digital and print journalism, said the event was particularly important to him as an African-American male.
“I’m glad to be a part of bringing awareness of people being killed, especially since these people were around our age, who was also one of the speakers at the vigil,” Carroll said. “Without these vigils, their stories would be overlooked.”
The candlelight vigil capped off the events BSA had planned for Black History Month.