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Uptown Vigil Honors, Celebrates Asian American And Pacific Islander Lives

Candles, testimonies and support filled Uptown Circle  Friday evening in solidarity with Asian American and Pacific Islander community members.

The organizations Not in Our School (NIOS) and Illinois State University’s AsiaConnect hosted the vigil in part to remember the lives of the eight people who recently died in a shooting spree in Atlanta.

During the vigil, NIOS students shared their experiences of discrimination along with other members of the community, and music selections from University High School's chamber orchestra. One of the organizers, Aditi Sharma, started off the vigil on what hope looks like for her in the future.

“Only with our resilience will we be able to transform our world into one where love and compassion are the new normal. Where no one has to face hardship just for who they are. Where no one has to lose their life because of their skin color, their religion, their sexuality, their identity,” Sharma said.

Linda and Carla
Credit Camberyn Kelley / WGLT
Bloomington-Normal NAACP leaders Linda Foster, left, and Carla Campbell-Jackson speak at Friday's event.

President Linda Foster and First Vice President Carla Campbell-Jackson of Bloomington-Normal’s NAACP chapter supported the vigil after being invited to the event. The two spoke at the event about unity and how the NAACP wants to be present during hard times in all marginalized communities.

“The NAACP is always there. Whether it’s something involving African Americans, we’re there. Asian Americans, we’re there. Hispanics, the issue in Chicago, we are there. So, we're on the platform for racial justice regardless of the people because at the end of the day we are all one people. This land is your land, this land is my land, and we're all immigrants from somewhere. So, we need to remain united and focus to do the right thing,” said Campbell-Jackson.

McLean County Board member Sharon Chung explained the importance of creating a platform for people  who are marginalized. Chung also mentioned the reality that was faced March 16 in Atlanta.

“I know that the reason why we're all gathered here today is kind of an unfortunate one. Those murders were so tragic and so heartbreaking, but I look around here and I see a lot of kindness. I see so much kindness and compassion and resilience and hope,” said Chung, who represents District 7.

In the last half of the ceremony, there was a moment of silence taken for the lives of those who died. It was  followed by the audience placing LED candles around a memorial. Guests were asked to leave tokens or gifts.

The memorial made Friday will be preserved at the McLean County Museum of History.

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Camberyn Kelley is a WGLT intern focused on reporting and online writing. She is also a student in Illinois State University's School of Communication.
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