Taina Figueroa (16G, 20G) wiped away tears as she addressed 20 Emory students and faculty members who gathered on Sept. 12 at Asbury Circle to mourn those who died in the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting in August.
The vigil included time for students and faculty to share stories, a candle-to-candle exchange, and concluding remarks by Assistant Chaplain Kevin Crawford.
The event began with an audio recording of a corrido, a traditional Mexican ballad, created for the El Paso shooting.
The shooting, which killed 22 people and injured 26, was believed to be a hate crime connected to an anti-Latino manifesto that the shooter published on an online message board, according to NPR.
Following the ballad, Emory students and faculty took turns listing the names of the 22 victims, for whom they lit candles and placed carnations on Asbury Circle. Figueroa said the event honored all those affected by gun violence and aimed to encourage healing and resistance in the face of misfortune.
“We wanted to make sure we did everything we could for the Latinx [community at Emory],” said Emory Racial and Cultural Engagement Director LaNita Gregory Campbell. “Hopefully it brings out larger conversation as a place for healing and talking about things, especially for students who are from El Paso.”
Figueroa wanted to create a space for community members to discuss their trauma.
“I think I wanted to create a space for students to process what has gone on over the summer, and it’s still something that we carry with us even now,” Figueroa said.
Emory students distributed candles to each person in the crowd. The group passed the flame from one candle to the next until a link of fire joined the spectators.
Crawford delivered the final remarks.
“The world comes crashing in and colliding,” he said. “But we get together when tragedy and grief strike. As you’ve done tonight, our hearts have found each other. In doing so, we found belonging and community.”