On Sept. 27, Black Campus Ministries held a prayer vigil in Baxter Hall. The group of students began the event with a prayer session at Rice House and then marched towards Paresky Student Center.
“It was like a march and protest, and in a way like a pray-in”, Philemon Abel ’19 said.
The group sang different protest songs from the civil rights movement as they crossed Route 2 and then circled around to Chapin Hall, before entering Paresky. As the vigil group entered Baxter Hall, leaders read Scripture and Abel performed a poem entitled “The Black Necropolis.” The event ended with a final prayer in which people of all religious denominations and beliefs could participate.
The online event page on Facebook described the event as a time to “pray, cry and mourn” for those who have lost their lives due to police brutality. Abel said that seeing an event like this take place in the social epicenter of his school with people from all racial and faith backgrounds was overwhelming.
For Abel, religion and the struggle for racial justice are related. He believes that while the vigil was a place for mourning and grieving, it was also a place for finding hope through religion. He also saw the vigil as a place to look towards Jesus in effort to, “restore the world and use Him as our guideline in how to do that.”
Abel was astonished by how many people participated in the event, either by marching or praying at Baxter Hall. “To see 50, 60, 80 faces there from all over campus, and not just black, it was amazing,” he said. He mentioned that the moments that the positively overwhelming moments during the evening happened out of spontaneity. They involved participants getting involved with the event in ways beyond the guidelines the organizers laid out.
The poem Abel read ends with, “Jesus where are you in the middle of this … does He pray with us? Does He mourn with us? Does He know how we feel?” Abel answered, “I think possibly unintentionally, but we definitely made the point that God is in this space and God is in the Purple Bubble.”