UNCW Community Mourns Victims of Orlando Shooting

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The UNCW community came together Tuesday, June 14, in memory of the 49 lives lost in the Orlando nightclub shooting. Students, faculty, staff and friends of UNCW filled the Amphitheatre in quiet remembrance and to make the statement that Seahawks stand together against violence and hatred.

Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli opened the vigil with one sentence: “May love prevail in our midst.”

The vigil was sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI). The Rev. Jay Denton of the Reformed University Fellowship led the brief observance and later asked for a long moment of silence that totaled 49 seconds, one for each victim of the shooting at an Orlando LGBT nightclub. Two of those killed were from North Carolina; one was a graduate of East Carolina University.

“You’re here to speak with your hearts. You’re here to speak with your voices. We remember those 49 when we speak words,” Denton said. “Their lives mattered.”

Music was provided by Candace Thompson, an associate professor in the Watson College of Education who recently served as interim director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center, and UNCW student Zach Lee. Thompson sang a cappella to U2’s “Love Rescue Me,” while Lee chose “Here’s Where I Stand.”

Here’s where I stand
Here’s who I am
Love me but don’t tell me who I have to be
Here’s where I am, I’m what you see

Most audience members who offered their sentiments began with the phrase, “I stand in solidarity with Orlando …”

"… and I choose love instead of hate.”

"… and I choose unconditional love and acceptance.”

"… because no one should be afraid of who they are.”

Denton summarized by saying, “We stand in solidarity for those 49 people because we are less without them.”

-- Tricia Vance