Silenced Americans speak out at candlelight vigil

Lexi Browning | The Parthenon
Marshall students united for an anti-hate candlelight vigil Wednesday.

On Nov. 9, Americans woke to the announcement that Donald Trump had become the nation’s president-elect. Some were happy, some were scared, some were shocked — and some were quiet.

Marshall University student Lilly Dyer wanted to give fellow members of her community a safe place to come and express their emotions. At 9:00 p.m., around 50 students met outside of the Memorial Student Center Plaza by the fountain for a candlelight vigil walk.

“This service is symbolic of being the light in a dark world of hate,” Dyer said. “Some of us will never be heard by them, but this is about love.”

Dyer told her peers that this was a safe place for them to cry, yell, sing or be silent.

“I’m a white woman and I have more privilege, and I just wanted to give everyone an outlet, because so many people are scared,” Dyer said.

The students walked around the entire campus, resulting in a walk lasting a little over an hour.

During the walk, students laughed, talked, cried and held hands. A group of students started singing “This Little Light of Mine,” and all the students collectively joined in towards the end of the song.

Dyer had planned the walk the morning of, after talking with her friend Lydia Waybright. They said they expected maybe five to 15 people to show up.

“She texted me this morning and said ‘I wanna do a candlelight vigil,’ and I said ‘okay, let’s do it,’” Waybright said. “We came here tonight at around 8:40 and saw so many people we don’t know. We kept thinking, are they here for us? We thought that maybe five people would show up.”

Waybright said she had an anxiety attack as the results of the election were coming in last night, fearing for women and sexual abuse.

Lexi Browning | The Parthenon
Marshall students united for an anti-hate candlelight vigil Wednesday.

“We live in a rape culture. You can’t even escape it as a woman. Now that fear is multiplied by a thousand. Boys are growing up seeing that behavior. That behavior is being celebrated,” Waybright said.

Marshall cheerleader Haley Hall also attended the event, and spoke out on her fears of increased harassment towards women, including herself.

“I’ve been getting stalked and harassed on every social media for over two years now,” Hall said. “He knows when I’m alone at my house. He asks me what I wear under my uniform, he asks my why I’m alone when my sister is not at my apartment, he said he wanted to take me out on the field in my uniform and wanted me to show him how a black girl f**ks, but, why’s he going to do it anonymously and try to hide it when my president sexually assaults women?”

As Hall left the church she votes at on Election Day, she said someone yelled out to her, “You got a fat ass, vote Trump.”

Hall said along with her fear of increased sexual harassment, she is scared about the racial comments that will be made towards her and others.

“People who have been my friends, people who I have loved, say things to me like, ‘I like black people, I just couldn’t date one,’” Hall said.

Hall also spoke about an experience she saw the day before the walk that left her emotional.

“I saw two little girls hide their henna when someone asked what it was,” Hall said. “It’s so beautiful, it’s part of their culture, but they looked so scared, hiding their hands. But, I mean, what do you do in that situation?”

Marshall graduate student Jessica Hutchinson also spoke about her fears for women, minorities, oppression, the LBGT community and more.

“These people are here. They’re not just people we hear about in inner-cities. They’re here. But we have silenced them all,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said she couldn’t help but scream when the results came in, and was dreading the next morning.

“I was just screaming. I’ve never had an urge — I’ve never had so much anger. I just had to scream,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson and her friends surrounding her all agreed that this is a moment in their lives they would never forget.

“You remember when 9/11 happened? Okay, well, I’m not in any way comparing this to 9/11, but think — that’s a moment you remember so vividly, at least I do. I was in first grade. I remember that I knew that people around me were upset and that something was wrong. I could feel fear radiating, and I feel that today, the same state of shock for our country that is unprecedented,” Hutchinson said.

Waybright said she was happy that the event was so successful and so many people came and had their voices heard.

“I heard someone say that they felt safe for the first time today, and it made me so happy to know that I could help create that environment,” Waybright said.

Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected].