Photo Credits to Rutherford Civil Rights Commission | Lighting of the candles during the moment of silence for the victims of the Atlanta shooting
On Thursday, April 8, at 7:15pm, in the parking lot of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission held a candlelight vigil where the Rutherford community gathered together in solidarity for the eight victims, six of whom were Asian American women, of the March 16th Atlanta shooting and the rising hate and violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander Community in the United States.
The night opened with a prayer from Mt. Ararat Pastor Shawn Pete followed by remarks made by Rutherford Civil Rights Commission member Mark Tenn. The night’s main points of honoring victims of AAPI hate, tackling the model minority myth, and effectively combatting the systems that perpetuate hate against the Asian American community were articulated by speakers such as Hiba Siddhiki and Mary Ahn, students from Rutherford High School, and Tenzin Jorden, a student from Becton Regional High School, along with Carol Hsu, a Rutherford resident, and Elaine Chin, middle school educator and founder of the Rutherford Anti-Racism Initiative. Commencing the end of the vigil was a moment of silence lasting for a minute and ending at 8:01 PM with eight chimes of the bell signifying the eight victims of the Atlanta shooting.
The vigil not only emphasized the voices of Asian Americans within Rutherford but served as a remembrance of the thousands of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants who have been and are victim to slurs, academic and professional discrimination, and violence, for those who live in fear and anxiety for the hatred targeted at the AAPI community that has continued in American society since this country’s inception. This vigil allowed a reconciliation of the pain endured by members of the community and is simply the start to making truly meaningful change in education, government, law enforcement, every possible facet of suburban America and in Rutherford to dismantle the perpetuation of Asian Americans as the “other” instead of Americans.