On October 11, 2020, the students of Millikin came together to honor a life cut tragically short.
Breonna Taylor’s name has been heard around the country and yelled in protests around the world, demanding justice for her untimely death. Taylor was killed on March 12, 2020 by a Louisville police officer acting on a no-knock warrant. She was an EMT, essential worker, sister, and a daughter.
Her death sparked international protests and conversations about the longstanding systemic racism and how black women have been repeatedly disrespected in this country.
On September 23, the grand jury trial, which concerned the three cops who were present the night that Taylor died, concluded. Two cops, Johnathan Mattingly and Miles Cosgrove, were not charged. The third, Brett Hankinson, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in regards to the bullets that hit the apartment next door.
This verdict devastated many Americans and divided the country, but last night, Millikin students of all backgrounds came together to celebrate someone who was taken from the world before her time. The Multicultural Greek Council and the Black Student Union hosted a candlelight vigil on Miller Quad.
At this event, one of the first in-person events held this year on Millikin’s campus, students held up candles and phone flashlights to send their hopes and prayers to Taylor and her family. While following Millikin’s social distancing guidelines and wearing masks, members of the campus community gathered to use lights to honor Taylor and the good she did in her life while she was still with us.
According to Black Student Union (BSU) president Eva Anthony, BSU is a student-run organization that focuses on social injustice, not just on Millikin’s campus but throughout the Decatur community and around the world.
“Black men and women are being killed each and every day just for being black,” Anthony said. “It’s important to have events like this to spread awareness…Walls have more rights in America than black men and women at this point based on the proceeding.”
The Multicultural Greek Council co-hosted the event. The council includes three historically black organizations, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., along with one historically Hispanic sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc.
“All our organizations were formed by minorities, so it’s important we actually speak out about these issues so people understand that this is a serious matter and it’s important to take action to make change,” Multicultural Greek Council president Nacyla Mitchell said, going on to note that Taylor is not the first person to die because of police brutality. “It is important that we keep speaking about the things so it’s not something left in the shadows.”
Both presidents gave statements to those who may not have come out to the event.
“I just want the rest of Millikin to know…make sure you all get out and get into these polls and vote and make sure we’re putting people into office who are not racially discriminatory against minorities and that we get people in office who are going to do right by minorities,” Mitchell said.
Anthony noted the importance of coming together.
“If you didn’t show up, you missed an important event,” Anthony said. “One of the most important things we need to do is unite…It’s not just about black people against the system, its everybody against the system.”