Candles flicker remembrance, hope at annual Durham vigil
Posted March 4, 2014
Durham, N.C. — Each candle at Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church in Durham Tuesday night represented a life cut short by homicide and a family searching for answers.
One of those candles was for Dion Williams. The 17-year-old was shot and killed in July.
“That was the worst thing any mother could ever experience, when they told me my son was dead,” said Jennifer Williams. “You don’t expect to see your son and then the last words you say are ‘I love you’ and then you never see your child again.”
Williams was at a vigil sponsored by The Religious Coalition for a Non-Violent Durham. In its 22nd year, the annual event honors homicide victims from the previous year.
There were 30 people killed in Durham in 2013.
“If you just think about it as a number, then it’s a number,” said Johannes Gumbo, senior pastor at Shepherd’s House. “But I think it must be personal, the way you look at it and say ‘we can do better.’”
The coalition often holds smaller candlelight vigils for homicide victims at or near where they were killed. Some of the victims’ family members, like Effie Steele, become involved with the organization.
Steele’s pregnant daughter was murdered in 2007.
"When we lose one person to violence, we all lose," said Steele, who chairs the organization. "We want to come together and stand in unity and show people and show Durham how it's supposed to be done. How we can love one another."
Williams had a simpler message.
“Please stop the violence,” she said.