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Candlelight vigil to grieve lives lost to injustice

A coalition of student groups will hold a candlelight vigil Sept. 24 to collectively grieve lives lost at the hands of injustice, especially this past summer.

The vigil will begin at 7 p.m. at Ericson Field. The campus community is invited. (Or join a livestream of the event.)

One of the organizers, senior Jacob Washington, said the group also would like to use the event to inform the Augustana community on what inequity and inequality look like on the national, as well as the campus level. 

"We also hope this is a foundation from which many conversations can start being held across campus regarding racial inequity," he said.

He said the group wants to encourage more people to attend programming sponsored by campus culture groups, the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity and the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to truly become an ally and understand each other. 

The idea for the vigil came from senior Brett Niederer, whose hometown is Kenosha, Wis., where protests have continued over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August.

Niederer reached out to Washington to see how he was doing during a time of unrest and violence against Black people across the country. 

"He then also suggested that Augustana should have some type of event that recognizes Black lives lost but, also a time for us as an Augustana community to recognize racial bias in our own community and how persons of color across campus feel," Washington said.

They discussed possible options ranging from a protest to potentially a walk across campus before they agreed on a vigil.

"Our end goal is that the reality of racial inequity and the concept of race are not such taboo topics anymore," Washington said.

"I would encourage students to attend the vigil because there becomes a time when you ask yourself, what were you doing when injustice was all around you? Were you fighting? Or were you sitting back on the sidelines? This is a time to learn from each other, understand each other, and truly show up for each other."

Program

Dr. Monica Smith, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, will be the keynote speaker. Student speakers will include Jacob Washington, David Mason, Caleb Minnis, Evelyn Aguayo, Joyce Matanguihan and Ashanti Mobley.

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