Local News

Eve Carson's legacy lives on

Posted March 4, 2009 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated March 4, 2010 6:02 a.m. EST

— Eve Carson, the slain University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president, was a Tar Heel through and through.

She loved Carolina basketball, going to Franklin Street and playing intramural sports. Friends say James Taylor's "Carolina in My Mind" was one of her favorite songs.

As a student leader and prestigious Morehead-Cain scholar, she personified what retired UNC Chancellor James Moeser last year called "the Carolina spirit." She was "compassionate, inclusive in her dealings with everyone … fairness, justice and tolerance."

The biology and political science major found time to tutor and teach science at a local elementary school. On summer breaks, she studied in Havana and volunteered in Ecuador, Egypt and Ghana.

Carson's enthusiasm for community service was contagious, friends say, and so was her ability to get people involved. Friends say that she was ready to conquer the world.

"Just whatever she was going to do, she was going to be great just being herself," said UNC junior Katherine Novinski, a Morehead-Cain scholar whom Carson mentored.

Instead, the world has come to know her in a much different way.

The 22-year-old native of Athens, Ga., was kidnapped at her campus rental house in the early morning of March 5, 2008, robbed, shot and killed in a neighborhood near the UNC campus.

Two men – Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. – face state and federal charges in connection with her death, which Chapel Hill police have called a random act of violence. (View a timeline of events related to the case.)

The crime sent shockwaves through the university community, which hadn't experienced a tragedy of such magnitude since 1995, when a law school student went on a shooting rampage and killed two people.

Within hours of hearing of Carson's death, thousands gathered on campus for a memorial service and a candlelight vigil.

"Something happened that day at UNC," said junior Hogan Medlin, also a Morehead-Cain scholar whom Carson mentored. "It was a literal coming together of the student body."

One year later, UNC is turning its grief into action, having already started a scholarship in Carson's honor – the first recipient was named last month – as well as a variety of other projects.

At a remembrance on Thursday, Chancellor Holden Thorpe will ask students, faculty and staff to give back to the community during the month of March.

"What matters most is who did you inspire? Where did you make your mark in this world?" Medlin said. "Eve made her mark, and it's evident in every person you can talk to."

Lisa and Emily Martin are living Carson's legacy of service. The women and about 80 other students will spend spring break in New Orleans. They plan to rebuild communities still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

“Eve Carson made a big difference on this campus. You can tell by the people who were affected by her death. So, I think it's really cool how we have the opportunity to make a difference in society as well as she did,” said Emily Martin, UNC student.

“I think it speaks about her life and what she meant to do,” said Lisa Martin, UNC student.

Carson's family has grieved privately, but her younger brother has taken on a very public cause that started before she died.

Andrew Carson helped produce an award-winning documentary called "Darius Goes West," which has sold nearly 22,000 copies and raised more than $1.5 million for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. The goal is to sell 1 million DVDs in one year.

The film follows the quest of 15-year-old muscular dystrophy patient Darius Weems, who sets off on a cross-country quest to get MTV's "Pimp My Ride" to customize his wheelchair. Along the way, Weems touches the lives of those he meets and shares his story.

Friends say Eve Carson encouraged the project.

"She would take the time to ask you the questions that others wouldn't ask," Medlin said. "She would meet you and immediately ask you what your passions are."

Thursday's remembrance begins in The Pit on the UNC campus at 4 p.m. with music starting at 3:45 p.m. It is expected to last about 30 minutes and feature remarks by Thorp and a performance by student a cappella group, The Clef Hangers.

"For many of us, the loss of Eve Carson continues to occupy our thoughts," Thorp said. "This ceremony gives us a chance to remember and celebrate Eve together after a difficult year."

Also on Thursday evening, friends will gather at Carson's alma mater, Clarke Central High School in Athens, for a moment of silence.