The evening began with Akosua's call to the African Ancestors to be with us and to continue to embrace LaTeisha as we continued to lift her up. I welcomed everyone by reminding those in attendance that "we are all children of the rainbow" and must work for a peaceful and just society.
LaTeisha's older sister Shaconia Cannon Williams and younger brother Mark Cannon lit remembrance candles and each recalled their sister as loving her family and someone who could be counted on to lend a hand or an ear whenever needed.
Sarah Hernandez read Andrea Gibson's powerful poem, "Say Yes." When the floor was opened, others reflected on LaTeisha with humor and deep admiration.
During the "information" segment speakers shared personal experiences as transgender persons and recent legislative efforts in New York and the nation regarding hate crimes.
Leslie Feinberg, whose moniker is "Transgender Warrior," spoke about persisting language barriers.
Forrest Antrum spoke about his grandmother's critical love and support for him as an African American transgender person, urging all communities of color to openly discuss these issues and support their LGBT members.
Tony Perez, who served on the Governor's Hate Crime Task Force at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, addressed the need for increased enforcement of existing hate crimes laws and greater awareness among law enforcement.
During the "transformation" segment, spoken-word poet Cedric Bolton of SU's Office of Multicultural Affairs, lead the audience in a rousing poem recalling all those lost to violence.
Roslyn Rasberry and Eleanor Russell performed Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son," which they renamed "Mother to Child." LaTeisha's father spoke about his pride in LaTeisha and the support that she received from her immediate and extended family. He said he warned LaTeisha about difficulties she would encounter, but also told her the family would stand with her. And they did. After closing remarks by Adrea Jaehnig of SU's LGBT Resource Center, Roslyn and Eleanor led us in "This Little Light of Mine."