As night began to settle over Mercer University Nov. 11, students brought forth beacons of light on Cruz Plaza. Candles cast a glow on the faces of concerned Mercer students who came to pay tribute to the unrest at the University of Missouri.
“Tonight needed to happen, because we need the unity of working together to decide we want change,” said Cameron Mobley, a member Mercer’s Organization of Black Students.
The uproar at Missouri is the result of a series of events that escalated last week to death threats made by Hunter Park, a student at a school in the University of Missouri system, according to Matt Pearce, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times
Park believed it was “funny” to rattle African American students by updating his Yik Yak with an “unintentional threat” of shooting and taking the lives of every black person he saw on campus, according to Pearce’s reporting.
The Mizza Candle Light Vigil was a collaborative event held and attended by concerned Mercer students interested in praying for the students of Missouri in hopes that their pain and fear will not last for long.
“We stand with our brothers and sisters in Missouri,” said Jackie Zvandasara, the president of the National Council of Negro Women.
People led the group in prayer along with Senior Elisha Scott, who preached to the circle of vigil members.
“This is what I do, because I have a passion for this. The Lord said it in his word, if you just be still,” Scott said when asked his feelings on the events transpiring at Missouri.
Scott’s answer is to pray and to wait for God’s answer on the next course of action they should take to seek change. In other words, Scott said that he believes God will help fix the problems of racism through time, which seemed to be the overwhelming response by the rest of the members attending the vigil that night.
As the night went on Shadaisa Wilcox sang a song titled “Don’t Do It Without Me” by Paul Morten, and as her voice lingered in the crowd, the members of the vigil came closer together in their own spiritual moment of community and solidarity.
“I just want everyone to understand we preach love, and just because we want to stand up does not mean we are looking for others to fall,” Jackie Zvandasara.
She said that while the circumstances at Mercer may not be the same as those in Missouri, there is room for progress. “We are not scared to leave our dorms, but we do feel that change still needs to meet our campus,” Zvandasara said.
The talk of change was heard all throughout the courtyard. The flames from the candles sputtered to smoke one by one. The members slowly headed home, but not without extending a hug and kind words to their neighbors.
“This is what I want, a difference of understanding that brings people together. I am going to push for student sensitivity traininng,” said NPHC President Caleb Brown,. “I know we all want things to be different.”
Editor’s note: This draft was updated 11/18/2015 at 1 a.m.