ITHACA, N.Y. — More than 200 people met outside Ithaca City Hall on Wednesday night to remember the nine people who were killed during a bible study in a historically black church in Charleston, SC, at the hands of a white supremacist.

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The vigil began shortly after 9 p.m. with a moment of silence for the nine victims who died in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, commonly referred to as Mother Emanuel.

After the moment of silence, the victims’ names were read before the microphone was opened up to the attendees to share thoughts, stories and poems.

“This is no mystery in a country that kills black people on sight,” said Dubian Ade, who was the MC for the night.

Many speakers were horrified by the crime, but they also urged people to recognize that the terror of black people at the hands of whites is not surprising given the country’s past.

“This is overwhelming for me and so sad,” said one woman, “but it is not shocking. White supremacy is an act of terrorism against black people.”

Candles were passed around the crowd and held throughout the vigil. Noting that the crowd was largely white, Ade specifically encouraged that people of color come to the microphone to speak. One black woman took the microphone saying, “we’ve got the privilege tonight!”

An Ithaca City School District employee told the crowd of her experience as one of the last people in Massachusetts who was part of the desegregation movement. She was bussed, with other people in her community, to poor white schools, where she said the students and administration did not want them.

She, and others, spoke of exhaustion from constant news of black deaths at the hands of white people, and at the oppression they feel every day. The ICSD employee said, “I am tired of the excuses, tired of white people not searching inside of themselves. There are doors open to you that will never be open to me or my child.”


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Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs is an intern with the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at nbogel@ithacavoice.com.