On Wednesday night, more than 100 people crowded onto the lawn of the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Hall for a candlelight vigil to commemorate the life of Savannah Walker.
The 20-year-old U of L student died Sunday morning after she was shot at a concert at the Tim Faulkner Gallery in the Portland neighborhood. Police are still looking for suspects in the shooting.
Walker’s friends described her as a “ray of light” who always advocated for others.
Jenny Nord is a family friend. Her daughter and Walker were best friends in high school.
“She had a voice, and one thing that I loved about her is that she taught others to have their voice,” Nord said. “It was just a natural process for her to give to others and help them find their own personal mission.”
Nord said she doesn’t think it’s too early to talk about how Louisville, as a community, can learn from the violent act that killed Walker and injured five others.
“I’m a lifelong Louisvillian, but we have some major issues and this is exposing those issues that have been, I wouldn’t say ignored — but this is real life,” she said.
Marquis Stoner attended Ballard High School with Walker.
“We played sports together, we went to parties, we had fun — you know, like high school kids,” Stoner said. “It’s rough losing a friend like that, and she wasn’t involved in any street activities. She just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Dean Walker, Savannah’s father, said he wants to see residents come together to address violence in the city.
“What our community needs out of this situation is more love, more concern, more. Savannah would not want it any other way,” he said. “Honestly, what I’m going to continue to say very actively is this: There is a group of young men in the community who we’re missing the boat with. We’re not loving them enough, we’re not finding what they need.”
Walker said this is not a “black and white issue” — and that it can be solved, in part, by looking past racial boundaries.
“We don’t judge by a person’s skin color, by how much money they make, where they live in this town,” he said. “We judge people on their character, and [Savannah] always did that.”
A memorial for Savannah Walker will be held at St. Stephen Baptist Church on March 24. Walker said that while Wednesday night’s vigil was meant to bring awareness to tough issues of violence and social justice, he hopes the service Friday will serve as a celebration of his daughter’s life.