The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., left one person dead and many across the country angry, sad and concerned. The Black Lives Movement San Marcos called for a vigil Tuesday night to bring concerned community members together in an effort to understand their feelings and stay united.
Russell Boyd, public administration senior and president of Black Lives Movement San Marcos, led the vigil with Skyller Walkes, associate director of Disability Services, who has dedicated her time at Texas State to helping the organization and her students in their activism.
The pair, along with other BLMSM members, met at Eddie Durham Park on MLK drive around 7:30 p.m. There, they were met by students, professors, families and local leaders including Ruben Becerra, former mayoral candidate and business owner, and Miguel Arredondo, SMCISD school board trustee.
Becerra and Arredondo said they were splitting their night between the vigil and the city council meeting where Senate Bill 4 was being discussed. The two said they felt it was important to be present for both events.
“We want to show support,” Becerra said. “We want to say we are here, we hear you and I think that’s important.”
“Obviously, getting involved means different things to different people,” Arredondo said. “It’s not impossible to give influence and take that power to do good.”
The event began with an open discussion of attendees sharing their reactions to the rally in Charlottesville which featured Nazi propaganda and violence. Some attendees had tears in their eyes, while others had questions about how they could fight the hate without imposing the hateful rhetoric themselves.
The dialogue took a break allowing Walkes, Boyd and other leaders to distribute and light candles for attendees. Some members passed out signs they had made, and the group formed a circle at sundown.
Despite the wind of the night taking the majority of the lights from the vigil, members continued to take a moment to acknowledge the death of Heather Heyer, the victim of the Charlottesville rally violence. For just over an hour longer, the vigil continued with speeches and members sharing their thoughts of issues like SB4, climate change, women’s rights and racial issues across the country.
Boyd said he is supportive of debate at Texas State and hopes that if a rally with a strong opposing view to his organization sets up on campus, that it will be peaceful with healthy conversations.
“I think for me, the opposition is really not directed towards a certain group of people, it’s toward hatred in general,” Boyd said.
If a Unite the Right rally were to take place in San Marcos, Boyd said he would hope it would be different.
“I know from my personal view, what happened at the University of Virginia was a tragedy,” Boyd said. “I do respect that everyone has the right to share their voice regardless if its an opinion that I agree with or not, but I don’t agree with violence. I don’t agree with someone spewing hatred in a way that they are spewing supremacy.”