Carrie Felkl didn’t cry until after after the rally had ended.
The names of black men shot by police had been read, and the candles that had quickly run out for the larger-than-expected crowd extinguished.
“Why did you come tonight?” the reporter asked Felkl’s daughter Zawadi Owino, kneeling on the pavement to be eye to eye with the 6-year-old.
“My mom wanted to come,” the little girl answered, “because we’re worried about my brother and my life growing up and how it’s going to be.”
“And we’re worried if my daddy gets shot, or my brother gets shot, or I get shot.”
Felkl’s eyes welled with tears.
The family was one of several that brought children to Friday night’s vigil on CCB Plaza in downtown Durham. With storm clouds threatening, about 125 people listed to speakers decry the latest police shootings of black men in America.
Durham has seen such shootings, too, including the deaths in recent years of two suicidal men shot dead when they pointed weapons at officers. In one case, the weapon turned out be an air pistol designed to look like a real gun.
The officers were cleared of wrongdoing in both cases by the district attorney.
But the shootings this past week in Baton Rouge, La., that killed Alton Sterling and in St. Paul, Minn., where Philandro Castile was shot after a traffic stop with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter in the car brought Duham residents back to the street on a muggy summer night.
“I’m 25 years old, and I know how to plan a memorial. I know how to have a vigil,” said Marcus Pollard, a third-year law student at N.C. Central University. “But we keep doing this same cycle over and over and over again.”
The vigil was peaceful. People signed a Black Lives Matter banner, took turns speaking and, with the wind whipping, briefly held candles as names of some of those killed across the country were read out loud.
Law students at historically black NCCU organized the gathering because they realized no one else was.
Tesfaye Mohamed, another third-year student, urged the crowd, split about evenly between black and white, to do more than attend vigils and post angry comments on Facebook.
He then read the Langston Hughes poem that asks “What happens to a dream deferred?”
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Afterward Tesfaye said people need to be angry.
“Every child they kill, it’s a dream they kill,” he said. “The dream of a mother, the dream of a father, the dream of a brother and the dream of that person.”
“We have to feel pain, we have to be angry. It is not OK It is not OK,” Mohamed said. “When someone gets killed you do not have to come out and say let’s all be peaceful. No, you just murdered somebody. ...
“It is OK to be angry. Use that anger for a good thing,” he said. “You have to be angry, remain angry and don’t give up.”