A reflection on candlelit campus vigil: no violence – no victims

On Tuesday, Sept. 29 the College of Charleston hosted a campus candlelight vigil honoring victims of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting. The vigil, titled “No Violence- No Victims” was sponsored by CofC’s Office of Victims Services’ S.C.O.P.E (Safe Campus Outreach, Prevention and Education Peer Team) and the Student’s Affairs Task Force. A large turnout filed into the Wells Fargo Auditorium Tuesday evening at the Beatty Center to commemorate those affected by the tragic event.

SGA President Zachary Sturman delivered his self-written poem titled “Charleston Strong.” His compelling piece included the fervent and powerful words: “Our city is strong. Our city will not dissolve from the world as a forgotten wave of the all too common ocean of catastrophic violence. But for now, unfortunately, we are not alone. We stand as one with the communities of Aurora, Sandy Hook, The Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood and so many other places to help heal our permanent wounds.”

Sturman’s poem placed importance on how necessary it is for people to recognize and put an end to the violent, cyclical events that have unfolded all too often within the past few years. The perpetrator’s name was never uttered for this reason. Struman said, “The cycle is our enemy. We will break the cycle.. the world is watching. We will not let them down. We will break the cycle. We will set the world on fire. We are Charleston strong.”

Floyd Breeland, director of College of Charleston’s “Call Me Mister” program and member of Mother Emanuel AME Church delivered a heartfelt speech urging all to, “Pay more attention to the emotional and even spiritual needs of those around us.” He encouraged, “When a community decides to make a difference, there’s no stopping it. When all members of a community pull together for a united cause the power becomes unlimited. So, commit yourselves to never be an innocent bystander, standup for justice today and everyday.”

CofC’s Gospel Choir and student-run a cappella group, the Chucktown Trippintones, gave talented performances in between speakers.

Trevor Jones, President of the Student Ambassadors and member of Mother Emanuel AME Church, delivered a speech intending to ignite action titled, “Know Your Roll, Do Your Job.” And President Glenn McConnell expressed, “The campus and the Charleston community responded in an uncommon manner in the aftermath of the tragic shooting,” praising the community of Charleston’s response to the tragedy.

The vigil was the eighth annual candlelight vigil held by CofC each year to honor lives affected by violent crime. No violence – no victims.

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