Members of Rowan University’s NAACP student chapter gathered on the back patio of the Rowan Hall engineering building Thursday night for a vigil dedicated to the memory of African-Americans who had been recently killed by police.
The vigil was also an effort to gather and remember that victims, like Terence Crutcher and Eric Garner, were people with lives, and not just hashtags circulating around social media.
Lakaziah Reevey-Harmon, a freshman law and justice major, felt it was important to be there.
“I actually was able to understand, and get other points of view of how people feel about black lives matter, and how segregated everything is becoming, and how we can just come together as one,” she said.
The meeting opened with small informal prayer, and from there moved to a discussion circle. People at the vigil then began to discuss their views on pervading issues surrounding the African-American community, most prominently their treatment at the hands of police.
Several members of the group talked about what it was like for them to have to know the correct way to act when talking to police. They also shared fears for younger siblings who still have to deal with the exact same issue.
After that, Khalif Hampton, a senior criminal justice major and president of the club, stepped up in front of those gathered and began to recite a slam poem, a poem that is meant to be read emotionally. It discussed race and the history of the civil rights movement in America, as well as his hopes and aspirations for race relations in the future.
The night then finished with the group raffling off a free ticket to their step show, on Oct. 8, with one catch. To win the ticket, the students had to correctly answer trivia questions about black literature, history and other assorted topics. The winner of the ticket was Yveline Jean Baptiste, a sophomore psychology major.
Hillary Gooding, a sophomore advertising major, felt it was important to be at the service in order to keep raising awareness of the treatment that African-Americans are receiving at the hands of the police.
“I think it’s important to keep awareness up, so that people know that we’re never forgetting what’s happening,” she said.
Laura Casasbuenas, a senior and law and justice major, said she faces an internal conflict about her race every day.
“I’ve been lucky enough to not have to deal with police brutality myself,” she said. “But I am a woman of color, and a law and justice major, which puts me in a place where I feel like I can use my privilege here, because people look at me and I don’t think they can tell at first glance that I might be someone of color.”
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