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By Alyssa Hughes

This Thursday, the University of Connecticut’s African American Cultural Center held a vigil of remembrance for the victims of the Charleston church shooting.

On June 17, 2015, 9 African Americans including a pastor and other ministers were killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The gunman, a  21-year old white male who at the time of the shooting was welcomed by the church to join their bible study, was indicted on 33 federal hate crime charges.

Dr. Willena Price, the director of the AACC, said events like this needed to happen not only to make more black students aware but for the community at whole.

The event featured performances, speakers, a candle light vigil, and dinner.

Some of the speakers focused on being black in America and the roles of the youth.

“There’s a lot of things I don’t understand but I know why I’m here,” said Dean of Students Eleanor Daugherty. “I know that in each of your eyes there are lights that bring you here and fire you up with a desire to make change.”

Student speakers spoke about how they could make a difference to create change on campus and nationally.

In a spoken word piece, freshman Trevis Farver Jr. addressed the issues of being accepted as black in America.

Dr. Joseph Cooper, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership said the Charleston shooting should remind us of three important things, one being that love overbears all hatred.

“We become desensitized to what’s going on,” Reverend Steven Cousins, Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and keynote speaker said.

Other students at the event said having the vigil brought awareness to black issues and created a community for black students at UConn.

Sophomore Paris Pruitt said African American students consistently need uplifting and that the event was inspiring.

The event concluded with a prayer, dinner and a chance for the audience to write letters to the families of the victims of the Charleston shooting.

For more information, the AACC is located on the fourth floor of the Student Union.

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