Tears and smiles seen at Saturday vigil

Published 1:35 pm Saturday, December 22, 2018

Community members gathered Saturday afternoon behind the tennis courts at Selma High School (SHS) for a vigil to remember the life of Alexis Hunter, a SHS student who was murdered five years before on the spot where the vigil took place.

Hunter was a victim of gun violence and lost her life after a gun shot to the head Dec. 21, 2013. According to reports, Hunter’s life was taken during a robbery.

Amid the tears, smiles could be seen as people remembered Hunter’s life and reveled in the community fellowship that accompanies even the most somber gathering.

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People were seen wearing shirts that said “Long live Alexis” and signs were posted around a black marble bench placed in memory of the young woman that said “Praying for justice” and “Justice for Alexis.”

Tiffany Moore, a teacher at SHS who had Hunter as a student, was in attendance. She said she hadn’t been able to attend the vigil in years past but made a point to come to this year’s event. Moore noted Joann Hunter-Walker, Hunter’s mother, who has held the event for five years now.

“She’s a strong woman,” Moore said. “Alexis bared her characteristics.”

The contingent of a couple of dozen people sang songs and joined in prayer before Councilwoman Angela Benjamin made a few comments.

“I remember the day, I remember the hour, when I received the phone call about Alexis,” Benjamin said. “We have some work to do in this community. We have wounds that need to be healed. Young people should not leave before their parents, that’s just not the order of things.”

Candles were lit in honor of a long slate of names, all of whom lost their lives to gun violence in Selma.

“Every family should have some peace,” said Minister Angela Hunter. “We light these candles today for every one of them.”

Hunter-Walker, though obviously emotional during the event, called for people to become organ donors and, in that way, ensure that their loved ones go on living and benefit the life of another. She also called for justice and an end to the violence that continues to plague the city.

“We lose our children so much and so fast,” Hunter-Walker said. “We’re still praying we do get justice. We got some justice, but we don’t have full justice.”

In September, Larry Hunter, Jr., 22, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder of Alexis Hunter – the two were not related but knew one another. A second suspect, John Jones, was 16-years-old at the time of the murder and has not yet been sentenced.