By Kennington Smith
On August 9, 2014, the nation was rocked over the news of a shooting of a teenager named Michael Brown Jr.
An 18 year old resident of Ferguson, Missouri; Brown was a graduate of Normandy High school and was scheduled to start Vatterott College only two days later. On this day August 9, during an altercation with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Brown died after being shot six times.
He was unarmed at the time. According to Ferguson police, Brown was a suspect in a robbery that occurred shortly before the shooting. Brown had no prior criminal record.
What has occurred since Brown’s death has been nothing short of chaos. In the week and a half that has passed, has come rioting and escalated racial tensions between African American residents and the Ferguson police.
Even peaceful protests have become violent as the local police have armed themselves with military like weapons such as stun grenades and tear gas, such weapons have been used on protestors and freelance media.
Missouri governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews.
The whirlwind that has been has sparked reaction from politicians such as President Obama to entertainers like rapper J. Cole to college campuses nationwide.
The University of Georgia student body has joined in to make their voices heard by holding a candlelight vigil on Wednesday.
“The goal of today was to show the world what the University of Georgia’s stance was on the matter,” vice president of Black Affairs Council Janai Raphael said. “This goes beyond Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Jordan Russell Davis, this has been happening for decades and I believe now is the time for change.”
The vigil was put on by the University of Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Black Affairs Council and the Black Male Leadership Society. Students of all color united at Memorial Hall for lighting of candles, poems and speeches.
The program was concluded with a powerful message from Black Affairs Council president Kiondre Dunham and a group moment of silence.
Though today was a success in the eyes of those who planned the event, it is only a stepping stone for what needs to happen in the future to affect real change.
“Moving forward we have to raise awareness to not only to Georgia but to the Athens-Clarke County Area,” treasurer of UGA NAACP Darrell Ballard said. “That means continuing to be proactive like this, going out to our communities and letting them know that we won’t stand for this. If we can get the word out then that would help greatly.”
According to BMLS president Charles King, programs are in the works for topics like this coming in September and October.
He encourages not only African American students but students of all backgrounds to get involved and unite for equality and justice.
“Today we united not as blacks, whites, LGBT, male or female but Americans,” King said. “The University of Georgia is rich in diversity and we want for every student to get involved and make moves to have their voice heard so that we may have justice locally and nationally.”