The Watauga County branch of the NAACP hosted a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Saturday for Michael Brown.
Brown, an 18-year-old African-American male living in Ferguson, Missouri was shot to death by a police officer Aug. 9, although Brown was reportedly unarmed.
The vigil took place in the Wells Fargo parking lot at the intersection of Blowing Rock Road and Highway 105, with approximately 100 people in attendance, many of whom were Appalachian State University students.
“We felt like it was important to have a show of solidarity and also to give folks a chance to have a forum to come together,” said Cath Hopkins, branch president of the Watauga NAACP. “One of our goals is to establish good relationships within the community and, at the same time, advocate for justice and equality.”
The candlelight vigil was planned solely by the NAACP, but was open to anyone who wanted to participate.
Hopkins said there was communication with local law enforcement, the town clerk and Wells Fargo bank to make the event happen.
A libation, a ritual that involves pouring a liquid in memory of someone who died, was performed. There also was a moment of silence and discussion lead by local religious figures.
Amber Haigler, president of Appalachian’s chapter of the National Pan Hellenic Council, said she attended the vigil because she feels it is important to talk about issues of oppression.
“I think only education and speaking up can prevent future situations like this – definitely having conversations,” Haigler said. “Our civil rights acts were based off of peaceful protest and speaking and educating other people about equal rights, so why can’t we do the same regarding police brutality?”
Carlotta Hill, a junior global studies major, said to prevent future situations like this, peaceful meetings are the way to go.
“We have to just keep doing what we’re doing now,” Hill said. “We have to make sure that it’s known that we’re people too and we’re human too, and that this is not acceptable by any means.”
The event ended with a performance of the song, “We Shall Overcome.”
“I think this is a repeat of some of the things Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to face and push through,” Hill said. “It’s sad that we’re still having to deal with it today, but I think that if we all can band together and get more people to support this cause then things like this can be prevented.”
Story: Nicole Caporaso, News Reporter