As the sun set over Main Campus yesterday, about 75 students joined hands in a circle at the Bell Tower and prayed for the victims and families affected by Sunday’s shooting in Las Vegas.
In what would become the largest mass shooting in modern United States’ history, Stephen Paddock fired on a crowd at an outdoor country music concert, killing nearly 60 people and injuring 500.
Following the opening prayer, Maya Simone, a junior Africology major, sang a song she composed on the piano entitled, “Peace Be Still.”
The crowd fell silent as her voice echoed the lyrics, “How can I be still when the world is so disturbed?”
The gathering at the Bell Tower was hosted by Temple Student Government and several student organizations, like Temple University Progressive NAACP and Strong Men Overcoming Obstacles Through Hardwork, which empowers African-American men at the university.
“No matter if you were directly or indirectly affected, everyone was touched by this,” Maya Simone said. “It is time to come together and to love everyone the way you want to be loved.
Two students at the vigil rapped about their frustrations with gun violence in the U.S., while others read messages they had written on paper beforehand. No expression of condolences was the same, but each student called for action, reform and unity.
Nuri Bracey, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of S.M.O.O.T.H., said he grew up in North Philadelphia and was familiar with gun violence and the impact it has on people.
“Like so many, I was shook by this attack on innocent lives,” Bracey said. “We need to do something.”
He added that what makes this gathering unique and powerful is what will happen afterward.
Bracey said he and other leaders of minority group organizations on campus have created the Black and Brown coalition with the goal of tackling issues, like gun violence, in the North Philadelphia area.
“We can’t fix the gun-violence issue for all of America,” Bracey said. “But we can certainly insight some sort of positive change.”
A chapel bell rang in the distance as Shawn Aleong, a continuing studies student and TSG deputy director of campus safety, asked everyone to join hands in a closing prayer.
“I ask you, God, that the hate in people’s hearts be replaced with love and that this be the last time that someone is hurt by gun violence in America,” Aleong said.