A small group of staff and residents of Stockwell Hall came together in a candlelight vigil last night in memory of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who passed away one week ago.

“Her passing signals an end of an era and a spirit of resistance and rebellion,” said Stockwell hall director Ericka Roberts. “We honor her tonight to keep the spirit of fighting inequality and injustice alive,” she said.

Sponsored by Students In Stockwell Transmitting Ethnic Relations or SISTER, the vigil – which included a moment of silence and reactions to Parks’s passing – was organized to recognize and emphasize the impact of Parks on the civil rights movement and the black community throughout the world, said Cheryl Clark, an Education junior.

“What she did was revolutionary because it opened so many doors for African-American people,” Clark said. “She set the standard for people to speak out and stand up for what they feel passionate about. Without what she did, a lot of people wouldn’t feel comfortable to go against the status quo.”

In 1955, Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man, helping to draw attention to the growing civil rights movement in America.

For many in attendance, Parks was an inspiration not only for the black community, but for women as well.

“She built confidence and courage in people to know that they weren’t alone and they can make a difference,” said LSA freshman and SISTER vice-president Simrat Singh.

Other students, including Singh and LSA junior Neena Sharma, said that Parks’s actions also showed women, and black women in particular, that they shouldn’t be intimidated to fight for what they believe in.

“I think she provided a lesson for everyone to learn that your values are important and that you should stand by them even if people around you don’t agree,” Sharma said.

“I hope people recognize the impact she has made as a woman, for women and for African Americans,” said Hanna Tessema, Stockwell’s minority peer advisor. “She has made life a lot easier for people.”

The vigil, primarily intended for the residents in Stockwell, is the first of two events honoring Parks’s legacy. On Dec.1, Stockwell will present a program – open to the entire campus community – commemorating the 50th anniversary of Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man.

 

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