It was raining. A crowd of approximately 100 students, faculty and staff were tucked under a white tent; the rest scattered around it with umbrellas. But when Sean Reid, dean of the business school, walked up to the microphone to commemorate the life of Anthony Nazaire, the former Ithaca College student who was killed Aug. 28, 2016, rays of sun began to shine.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already since his tragic loss,” Reid said.
Reid was the first speaker at the remembrance gathering held Sept. 8 outside the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise. The gathering was held to commemorate Nazaire, who was stabbed and killed after leaving a party at Cornell University, and to unveil a plaque and pear tree that were erected in his memory. Nagee Green, the man on trial for the murder of Nazaire, was convicted in June for second-degree assault but the jury deadlocked on the murder charge. A retrial will be held this fall to settle the murder charge. Jury selection for the retrial is scheduled for Sept. 15.
Before the ceremony began, Nazaire’s sister, mother and grandmother walked up to the plaque under the pear tree which was planted in his memory and were able to reflect before the ceremony began. President Shirley M. Collado led them over to the memorial and comforted them. The crowd fell silent.
Reid said the placement of the plaque and tree was closest to the two classrooms in the Business School where Nazaire spent the most time. One was the student organization room. The other was Business 206, where Nazaire took a class with one of his favorite professors, Don Lifton, who died Dec. 5, 2015. The plaque was also placed near the Muller Chapel, where students of different faiths hold religious ceremonies.
“I hope any student, of faith or not of faith, will walk down that path toward the chapel and say a prayer or that they’ll think of Anthony and remember him in their thoughts,” Reid said.
RahK Lash, assistant director in the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs, spoke next. He remembered that the last time he had a conversation with Nazaire, they discussed his leadership role on the executive board of Brothers 4 Brothers, a student organization dedicated to providing a safe space and support system for marginalized men on campus.
“Anthony and I had a very, very deep conversation about his goals and his aspirations and his ambitions,” Lash said. “I didn’t know that was the last time I would actually get to see Ant.”
Lash said Nazaire was ambitious, inquisitive and projecting for success.
“Anthony was that dream of tomorrow,” Lash said.
Nazaire’s legacy, Lash said, would live on through other students of color with similar aspirations through the Anthony Nazaire ’19 Endowed Scholarship. Sophomore Christopher Ford, the first recipient of the scholarship, attended the ceremony to accept a plaque given to him in honor of Nazaire’s life.
Nathaniel Gonzalez ’17 also spoke at the gathering, reflecting on the day he and his friends became aware of Nazaire’s death. He said he remembered how dedicated the college community was to helping them heal and come to terms with the loss of their friend.
“In the past year, this campus has shown how strong it is and what it’s capable of,” Gonzalez said. “This community of color has shown just how strong it is. I can’t put into words how thankful I am for that.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Christopher Ford was a freshman. It has been corrected to state that he is a sophomore.