On May 31, both the Eugene and University of Oregon community came together at the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center on the university’s campus for a candlelight vigil two weeks after a white 18-year-old man shot and killed 13 people, killing 10—of which 11 were Black—in a Buffalo, New York Tops supermarket.
A previous candlelight vigil at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza happened the day following the shooting.
The BCC, which opened on Oct. 12, 2019, is named after Lyllye Reynolds-Parker, a member of one of Eugene’s first Black families, who worked at the university as an academic advisor in the Office of Multicultural Academic Success until her retirement in 2008.
The vigil, organized by UO student and Student Insurgent writer Paris Woodward-Ganz, began a little after its scheduled 6 p.m. time with a dozen-or-so people gathered in grief for those killed and injured.
Woodward-Ganz began the event around 6:20 p.m. by immediately pointing out that Payton Gendron, who livestreamed his shooting rampage in the supermarket, had carried out this act in the name of the debunked “Great Replacement Theory” before specifically calling out Fox News’ Tucker Carlson as it’s main propagator.
They also spoke about how the media has, for the most part, ignored the shooting in the weeks since, saying they wonder how many more of these tragedies have to go by before people start to pay attention.
“Meanwhile what can [the police] do after Ulvade?” Woodward-Ganz asked. “Stand around and sit there, handcuff a woman who wanted to get her kids out, save their own kids?”
They continued by saying “it’s a band-aid meant to cover up bullet wounds” before asking how many more Black people have to die before people pay attention.
Responding to what someone in the crowd had said, Woodward-Ganz spoke about how they had posted about the shooting on their TikTok account and, after reading through numerous comments, discovered that many people still aren’t even aware that the hate-fueled shooting happened in the first place.
The coordinator for the BCC, Dr. Aris Hall, spoke next and encouraged everyone to continue to think about the shooting, others like it, and how to move forward with our daily lives while doing so.
Ending their speech, Dr. Hall mentioned that there will be Kuponya: Centered Black Healing on Friday, June 3 from 12 – 1 p.m. The last of the university’s spring term, the virtual meeting on Zoom is open to all Black, African, African-American, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, or of the African Diaspora students and faculty to attend. A link to register can be found here.
Karyn Schultz, the program assistant for the university’s Women’s Center, spoke next and talked about how, despite feeling that organizing events should be left to others, there comes a time to do so yourself.
Closing out the vigil, at 6:30 p.m., Woodward-Ganz read off the names of all those killed and injured before a moment of silence.
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