Executive Remarks, Student Body President Lamar Richards
Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), UNC Hillel
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Good evening everyone. My name is Lamar Richards, and I am proud to be serving Carolina as its new Student Body President.
You know — it’s truly an honor to be here today — to have been invited to speak to you all tonight at this Yom Hashoah commemoration and program. My sincere thanks to Abby [Adams] and UNC Hillel for the invitation.
Although it looks quite different this year as we gather virtually, the essence of tonight remains as touching as it ever could be — as intimate as it ever could be. But also — as halting. Encouraging us and reminding us — to stop. To grasp. To understand. And to commemorate.
“Remembrance in the living room.” Creating a genuine space to hear each other. To listen to each other. To recollect. To grieve. To remember, yes, but also to hope. Hope moving forward. Hope as we remember the past. Informing our present and propelling our future.
Remembrance, to me, is a very fickle thing. To me, remembering means confronting. It means reckoning. Reckoning with prejudice. With hatred. Reckoning with what we remember. Who we remember. How we remember. But most of all — why we remember.
On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I would like to share the powerful words of Elie Wiesel, from a Remembrance of his own, who once reminded us, “how does one mourn for six million people who died. How many candles does one light? How many prayers does one recite? Do we know how to remember the victims, their solitude, their helplessness? They left us without a trace, and we are their trace.”
To me personally, remembrance serves as a true and genuine testament to resilience. Instilled in us, but not blind to disparity and inequity present in our moral fabric — in who we are and who we aspire to be. It is that which we must hold dear.
I firmly believe that our self worth as humans is a byproduct of the self work we put in. The work that is done and that we must do, in ensuring and securing equality, humanity, and equity. This work must not serve to be checked on a box or crossed on a list. It should and must be a commitment — a lifelong, generational one — advocating and standing firm not only for ourselves, but for those we love — those we care for — as well as those that have cared for us, supported us, grieved with us.
I can say without a doubt that this space is what it is because of who you are — your values, your beliefs, your ideals.
So, my friends, at heart — we remember because we must. We may not know how. We may not know who. But we know that we must, for if we don’t, today — this day — vanishes. Along with any trace of all that it took for this day to come.
As Wiesel once said, “for the dead and the living, we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories.”
It is as such that I make it my solemn duty. My responsibility. To always remember. But do so in a way that also enables me to confront. To reckon — with injustice and prejudice, while recognizing sacrifice, longing, and hope.
I share my love with you all on this day of remembrance — on this Yom Hashoah. Thank you all so very much for your time tonight. May peace be upon you all.