Vigil Attendees Remember Lives Lost and Highlight Racism

March 31, 2021

Tuesday night’s rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd of students and other members of the Michigan State University and surrounding community who gathered at The Rock on campus for a vigil remembering those who lost their lives in the Atlanta spa mass shootings earlier this month. 

The vigil, organized by the Asian Pacific American Student Organization (APASO) and the Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions (OCAT), within the Division of Student Affairs and Services, provided an opportunity for those gathered to speak about their experiences and hopes for the Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American (APIDA)community. Luminaria were lit as the names were read of each person who lost their lives in the shooting:

  • Daoyou Feng
  • Delaina Ashley Yaun
  • Hyun Jung Grant
  • Paul Andre Michels
  • Soon Chung Park
  • Suncha Kim
  • Xiaojie Tan
  • Yong Ae Yue 

Students, leaders and others shared their thoughts and hopes for the community, calling on all to ensure this tragedy does not pass quietly. “This vigil is a reminder that we must continue to remember the eight people and six Asian Americans who lost their lives, and the countless numbers of people who’ve lost their lives to racism and hate,” Meaghan Kozar, OCAT coordinator, opened the event by reading words from Nhoua Yang, MSU alumna, who initiated the idea for the vigil but was unable to attend. 

During the event, those attending came forward to share experiences and ask for support. Standing together in the rain and as a symbol of strength, support and hope, the group turned their smartphone flashlights on – lighting the darkness.

“We can physically show support of the APIDA community in ways that we haven’t seen in the past within the MSU and Lansing community,” Kaylee Commet, third year student at MSU and treasurer of APASO, said prior to the event’s start. “I hope to see the support of white allies and others in the community.”

Commet explained we’ll know when things have changed when something like this happens again and the APIDA community feels support, meaning others are checking on them and making sure they’re OK. “When we can say others are there for us and care, and we know it, then we can say we are supported,” she said.

Commet’s friend, Melinda Phillips, also a third year student at MSU who joined the event to support her friend and the rest of the community, said she also wanted to learn more. “I want to bring light to issues the (APIDA) community is facing, not just the struggle when these types of events happen,” Phillips said.

The vigil was both in person and livestreamed on OCAT’s Facebook, where the vigil recording may be watched. For more information, visit ocat.msu.edu.

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