Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, led a crowd late Wednesday night of nearly 150 in a silent vigil on the Duke Chapel lawn for death row inmate Troy Davis who was executed in Georgia a week ago on Sept. 21.
"The entire world saw the failure of the judicial system," Barber said of the Davis case which drew controversy with many death penalty advocates, celebrities and others claiming there was "too much doubt" about his guilt. Barber called Davis, who had been convicted of killing an off-duty police officer, a martyr for the anti-death penalty movement.
"It's sad and tragic, but your calling is to change it," Barber said to the students, suggesting they run for office and help end the death penalty in North Carolina.
Many participants wore black and held candles during the event. Just before 11:08 p.m., the time of Davis' death, there was a 3-minute moment of silence.
The event was organized by members of the Black Student Association. Activism around Davis raised awareness of the death penalty for many students, said event organizers Nana Asante, president of the Black Student Association, and Alex Alston.
Asante, who developed her activism on the case through Twitter, said she hoped the vigil would lead people to remember Davis and to use that memory to continue the activism.
"It was so powerful and so profound. It was such a moment but I almost feel like it was too late," said Asante. "We hope there won't be, but we know there will be another Troy Davis and maybe by then we'll be ready to mobilize and save someone else's life."
Pictured below: Manny Olojede, a member of Duke's Black Student Alliance, speaks to the audience. "As a black man it pains me to say this case has exposed America as a country that still doesn't recognize my humanity," Olojede said.
Story by Camille Jackson. Photos by Geoffrey Mock
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