Kent State NAACP honors King with vigil

Bryan Wroten

Daniel Calloway, sophomore business management major, lights a candle at Oscar Ritchie Hall last night during a candlelight vigil for Coretta Scott King. STEPHANIE SMITH| DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The rain only put out their candles.

The Kent State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held a candlelight vigil last night in honor of Coretta Scott King.

George Garrison, professor of Pan-African Studies and adviser to the KSU-NAACP, joked with those who met for the vigil that the rainy weather would make it feel like a march from the Civil Rights Movement.

“The struggle continues, nonetheless,” he said. “At least it’s not snowing and 10 below.”

They carefully lit their candles under umbrellas before walking and singing from Oscar Ritchie Hall to the Student Center. The clock struck 8 p.m. as they sang “Amazing Grace,” the bell accompanying their voices.

“I thought it’d be a great way to honor Coretta Scott King,” said Shanelle Smith, president of KSU-NAACP.

Smith said the black community needs to come together to honor the dreams of King and her husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. She said the black student groups need to and will work together.

“There are only 1,400 of us on campus,” she said. “We’re spread too far apart.”

They sang louder upon reaching the Student Center. In room 204, they stood in a circle and shared their thoughts on King.

“The things that we have, we can thank Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr. and their family,” said Matthew Cox, president of Black United Students.

Bob Peeples, senior business management major, said it is times such as this that they should remember what the Rev. King did for them.

“His dream was for us to be doing what we’re doing now,” he said.

Preston Mitchum, vice president of KSU-NAACP, gave a brief speech about the life of Scott-King. He spoke about her accomplishments working with her husband and after his assassination.

Garrison spoke as well. He told those gathered about the hardships Scott-King faced growing up. He told them about how she had to pick cotton in a field to help her family through the Great Depression. He said she went to school to become a teacher and professional singer, but her and the Rev. King’s plans changed after the Montgomery bus boycott. She and her daughter Yolanda barely escaped the bombing of their house in 1956, he said.

Smith ended the gathering by telling the students, “It will be our job to make sure the legacy lives on.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].