A vigil was held in Malcolm X Plaza at San Francisco State University earlier this week to remember those who lost their lives in the Paris terror attacks, and in other senseless acts of violence that have been occurring around the word. Among those killed in the coordinated attacks that left Paris and the world in a state of shock, was 23-year-old CSU Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez.
Students gathered in the plaza to remember the innocent lives that were lost, but also to express a sign of solidarity, and to stand against violence.
After candles were handed out, and a warm bright light started to form around the plaza, The Dean of Students, Mary Ann Begley spoke about the tragedy that killed 129 people, then asked for a moment of silence. A solemn hush fell over the crowd, then Begley opened up the microphone to any student who wished to share their thoughts.
Many students walked up to the podium to give their greatest sympathies, but to also voice that solidarity and togetherness is important during a time when so many devastating events occur. In an article in the Golden Gate Xpress by Renee Abu-Zaghibra a student said, ” ‘The main thing is to not be afraid,’ Abonnec said. ‘The Charlie Hebdo slogan was, ‘We are not afraid,’ because that’s exactly what they want. We want unity and solidarity and love now not violence.’ ”
Despite having to experience carnage and sadness, whenever a tragic event like this happens, it brings people together. Standing with everyone on that crisp fall evening felt good. It elicited a sense of healing, and a sense of hope, and that coming together as one voice and body against violence is a way that the San Francisco State community, and the world can hold onto hope.
As I watched the events of last weeks attacks unfold, I messaged my best friend who is studying abroad in Paris to make sure she was safe. She told me she was safe, but she also told me how in the wake of the attacks, how powerful it was that people all over the world were coming together. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”