Fontbonne is committed to anti-racism and to playing an active role in changing the systems that are oppressive to our black and brown sisters and brothers. Our community held our first Peace, Love & Solidarity vigil in honor of Black Lives Matter on June 18th. The inspiring event was led by our students Sydney Lunnin ‘21 and Lindsay Rene ’21. Our community will continue to host these vigils monthly.
Student leader Sydney Lunnin shares how this vigil series came about and why it will continue:
The Fontbonne student body echoes the pain and frustration that people all over the world have expressed. These painful repeating offenses of racism are extreme examples that people of color are challenged with on a daily basis. The pain and anguish that has risen out of the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd cannot be ignored. The issues of police brutality, systemic violence, and racial injustices did not start with these innocent lives, and sadly it will not end until there is a conscious effort towards systematic change. As a community, we wanted to unite in solidarity to pay respect to the lives of those lost and express our outrage through prayer and reconciliation. We must look inward with hope and stay vigilant about holding people accountable for their biases and educating ourselves on issues that are threatening our security. The time is now to unify as people and look inward to fight this country’s history of bigotry, hatred, and discrimination. We must take a stand to unite. This is a difficult conversation to have but it must happen. This is why the Peace, Love, and Solidarity vigil was born. We must stand up for Black Lives Matter as a community and express our feelings and concerns.
We had a great turnout from the community. We had the opportunity to engage with current students, former students, faculty, board members, and friends and families. We are grateful for Sydnee Bridges, Samantha Lucien, Lillian Siris, Meola Pierre-Louie, John Hopkins, and Victoria DaCosta who spoke for having the courage to share in their truth and share in their unity and strength. We had a number of members of the community bring signs that read Black Lives Matter and shared this time of unity with the expressions written and held up high on the cardboard signs.
We also observed a moment of reflection by taking a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that the officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck which ultimately led to his death. Although the officer committed an unspeakable act by extinguishing George Floyd’s voice, events like these will serve to speak his truth.
After taking a moment of silence for George Floyd, three tones were heard to honor the lives of those lost to police brutality. A prayer written by Lindsay Rene was read to the audience asking God to heal us of all the suffering that people have endured because of the recent tragedy that has taken place in our community. We felt that it was important to include a prayer because doing so brings the community together and allowed us to take the time and feel all the emotions that had gathered up inside. The song Glory by John Legend was played while the prayer was read. The song portrays the theme of justice and freedom and we felt that this fit in perfectly with the message we were trying to get across.
Many members of the community shared with us that they were thankful to have a safe space so that they could speak openly and honestly about racial issues involving our community and the world. They are not alone. We will not be silenced, we are committed to change, and more importantly, we are committed to spreading the message that racial discrimination, bigotry, and violence among the most vulnerable populations will not be tolerated. We want to continue this throughout the school year and have multiple conversations involving the Fontbonne community about this very important issue.
-Sydney Lunnin '21