Sigma Gamma Rho holds vigil for Sandra Bland during founder's week

Attendees join in prayer, moment of silence


Warren encouraged attendees to say “Asé,” following the mention of each name, the Yoruba word for “I affirm.”

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

The University’s chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority held a candlelight vigil on the steps of Minor Hall Wednesday for deceased sorority sister Sandra Bland.

Bland was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas on July 13.

Fourth-year Engineering student Kiana Warren said the purpose of the vigil was to remember not only Bland, but all who have lost their lives to violence inflicted by state agents.

Following Warren’s remarks, third-year College student Alexis Jones said a prayer, and Education graduate student Trayc Freeman led attendees in singing one verse of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Warren then began to read the names of black women who have died from violence by state agents, citing Shantel Davis, Kendra James, Erica Collins and Alecia Thomas.

Many of these women did not receive any attention in the media, Warren said.

Warren also read them names of transgender women of color who were victims of such violence, including Sage Smith, Jasmine Collins and Amber Monroe.

Following the mention of each name, Warren encouraged attendees to say “Asé,”, a Yoruba phrase meaning “I affirm.” A moment of silence was then held, during which Warren asked attendees to reflect and remember the victims.

“It’s important that you recognize and remember that these women were someone’s mother, aunt, sister,” Warren said. “Most importantly, they were human. It’s important that we empathize and remember.”

Attendees concluded the vigil with their own remarks.

“Coming together like this really speaks volumes,” third-year College student Annie Birge said. “There’s so much more conversation and reflection and work to be done. And I hope we continue to grow the community here for black lives.”

Attendee and first-year Engineering student Todd Le said he attended the vigil to show solidarity for “not only for the black community, but for all the victims of police brutality.” By attending, Le said he gained his own sense of solidarity.

“I came out with my own idea of being connected to the community, but actually seeing people gather and talk about the issues is a lot different than seeing it online,” Le said.

The vigil is part of Sigma Gamma Rho’s Founder’s Week events. The sorority was the event’s only sponsor.

“Sandra Bland was a part of our organization,” Warren said. “We thought it would be the right thing if we put it on ourselves.”

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