On October 2nd, over 100 students, faculty and other members of the Princeton community gathered on Frist South Lawn to participate in a candlelight vigil honoring Mike Brown and other recent victims of police brutality. As protests continue to stir the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, students came together to reflect and demonstrate solidarity in the face of our country’s race relation challenges.
The event was organized by the newly formed Black Leadership Coalition, an undergraduate body composed of student leaders from black affinity and cultural groups.
Briana Payton, ’17, opened the vigil with an address describing the impact of Mike Brown’s death and the protests in Ferguson on Princeton’s campus and beyond. Following were 12 performances and speeches presented by campus cultural, political and advocacy organizations, ranging from the Princeton United Left Assembly to Princeton’s Caribbean Connection. The audience responded heartily to a few standout performances, including a spoken word piece by Kujegi Camara, ’16, on the relationship between African Americans and Black Africans.
After all scheduled speakers finished their presentations, the stage was opened to anyone who felt compelled to speak or perform. Over a dozen students, ranging widely in class year and ethnic background, took to the mic to share their own perspectives and inspirational messages with those gathered.
As audience members left the vigil, they were encouraged to write on a banner to be dedicated to Mike Brown and other victims. Messages included personal comments, quotes, poems and other expressions. Students interviewed at the event expressed their satisfaction with the vigil, and shared hopes that the Princeton community continue to engage issues of race relations.Below is a sound recording of the vigil’s opening statement, delivered by Briana Payton, ’17