More than 50 students, faculty and community members gathered at the Kelley Commons for a unity vigil hosted by the Center for Multicultural Education on Monday, Aug. 25.
Shana Meyer, vice president for student affairs, started the vigil off by expressing her sympathy to all students and families affected by the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., where an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a police officer. The shooting was then followed by peaceful protests along with rioting, looting and more violence.
Meyer also welcomed the freshman class to the diverse Griffon family and encouraged students to become a unified group, and is also hoping for an open discussion about these events as the new year begins.
“As we move into the fall semester, we hope to continue our open dialogue on situations that affect us all in the hope that those discussions can ultimately bring a positive change in the world and bring us closer together as a community,” Meyer said.
Robert Vardiman, a sophomore music business major from St. Louis, was then invited to the podium to read Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
Vardiman said he was honored when he was asked to speak at the vigil and was even happier with the number of people who attended the event.
“I feel that this was definitely necessary,” Varidman said. “I’m glad we did this and got the community together and now everyone is bonding. We finally won after this terrible situation.”
Jason Callaway, principal of Truman Middle School in St. Joseph, also spoke at the vigil. Callaway was born and raised in St. Charles, Mo., located just outside of St. Louis.
“I believe things aren’t getting bad. I believe they already are,” Callaway said. “Each and every one of us has an innate ability to take it upon ourselves and be that person, to be that someone that does something. This is our university, this is our city, this is our state, this is our country, this is our planet, this is our home. We need to do something.”
Latoya Fitzpatrick, coordinator for the CME, ended the evening by singing “Amazing Grace”and holding a moment of silence in remembrance of Brown.
“I hope that from now on, we can all come together to achieve social justice,” Fitzpatrick said at the end of the event.
Vardiman was glad to see the CME reaching out to students and the community and is hopeful for the future.
“To see that the CME is doing community work is so amazing, and I feel like we should keep doing this every year,” Vardiman said.