King's memory honored with candlelight vigil
As the wind made it difficult to keep candles lit, students gathered at Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil to pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 40 years ago.
Various student groups organized the vigil to remember the life and memory of the assassinated leader in the non-violent struggle for equality and Civil Rights in the United States.
Black Student Union historian Cienai Wright, a Livingston College senior, said she felt much pride in helping organize the vigil.
"I think this was a great turnout," Wright said. "We had co-sponsors from 15 other organizations, not just black organizations, but Spanish organizations, white organizations, all [kinds of] organizations on campus. We had at least 200 people here, which is a great turnout especially when it's this cold outside."
The vigil was organized and co-sponsored by the Paul Robeson Club, the National Association for the Advancement of Color People, the Black Student Union, the Black Men's Collective and others.
Douglass College senior and Zeta Phi Beta President Shirlyn Cesar said groups like her own could remember King's legacy by making a difference on campus.
"We pay our respects to Dr. King with how we live our lives," Cesar said. "We can actively support Rutgers' initiative to increase the numbers of minority students and faculty by encouraging our organizations to visit surrounding high schools."
Wright helped conduct a libations ceremony, in which water was poured on the ground in remembrance of fallen ancestors.
After the respects were paid to prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, members of the crowd were allowed to participate and offer their own ancestors libations.
"Today, we paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, the slaves of the Middle Passage and people's relatives," Wright said.
Edward Ramsamy, an associate professor of the Department of Africana Studies, said despite the cold, the amount of people participating was heartening.
"I think there was an overall positive energy," Ramsamy said. "The legacy and life of Dr. King resonates among the students today."
He said today's student activism played a pivotal role.
"King laid the foundation for the sort of activism you see emerging now," Ramsamy said. "I am from South Africa, and the change in South Africa would not have happened if people from within the country didn't resist apartheid."
But also, there was a network of goodwill internationally including the University, he said.
"The Rutgers community was vital in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, which in the end, brought an end to apartheid," Ramsamy said.