MOBILE, Alabama – Hundreds of students, faculty and friends gathered at Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza on the University of South Alabama campus for a candlelight vigil in memory of USA student Christopher Elan Thomas on Tuesday, March 18.
Thomas, 21, of Dothan, Ala., was found unresponsive in the Gamma 5 residence hall at the university on March 15. He was a political science major and an active campus leader. The cause of his death has not been determined.
The vigil was organized by Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Jaguar Productions and the Student Government Association.
Students hugged and wept as the USA African-American Student Association choir sang. Phi Kappa Sigma treasurer Zach Charlton, 21, talked about his fraternity brother through tears, pausing at times. “He was an inspiration for me and everyone,” said Charlton.
Edgar Walker of Dothan, Thomas’ uncle, also spoke thanking the university and the students for their generosity and kindness. Looking around at the large crowd, he recalled how much Thomas loved attending the school and being so involved with campus groups and activities. “He didn’t leave us, he just went home and he’s waiting for us to get there,” said Walker.
Thomas, a young Republican, had just found out two weeks ago that he had been accepted into a summer internship program with the Leadership Institute in Washington D.C. According to their website, the organization provides training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications for young conservatives.
“He always said he’d be the first African American governor in Alabama,” said Walker after the vigil. “I felt that he’d go far in politics,” he added