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September 30, 2023

‘You cannot give up’: WKU hosts vigil for former student Ayanna Morgan

Dominic Di Palermo
(From to left to right) Ayanna Morgan’s family members Misha Baskerville, Lord Zilverbakk-Omega Prime and Veronica Hiriams embrace during a vigil for Morgan at Guthrie Bell Tower in Bowling Green, Ky. on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. “Just got to keep her (Baskerville) standing,” Prime said. “That’s my job.”

A little over a month after her passing, a candlelight vigil was held around Guthrie Tower for Ayanna Morgan, a 21 year old former student on the Hill, who was fatally shot and killed in front of the Muse apartments on July 23. 

Many students and student organizations were in attendance Tuesday night, including WKU’s Student Government Association, who hosted the event. The opening speech was given by SGA President Sam Kurtz.

“I want to thank Ayanna’s family and friends for being able to make it out to this event tonight,” Kurtz said. “I know it takes a lot of courage and a lot of strength to be out here.”


An attendee holds candles during a Vigil for Ayanna Morgan at Guthrie Bell Tower in Bowling Green, Ky. on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. (Dominic Di Palermo)

Morgan’s mother, step-father, grandma and best friends were in attendance, some of whom spoke to the large crowd who gathered at the event.

Morgan’s mother, Misha-el Baskerville, spoke to the character of her daughter and mourned her recent loss by articulating Morgan’s story.

“Ayanna’s life showed exactly who she was – a dedicated, tenacious, hard-working individual,” Baskerville said. “We will forever be proud of her and all her accomplishments.”

Students at the vigil lit candles after Morgan’s family spoke, sharing their flame as they passed it around the group. As this happened, former Hilltopper Shamaria “Missy” Woodard, sang “Amazing Grace.” 

Woodard used to work with Morgan at Walmart. When Woodard began to tear up, the students in attendance helped her finish the song together.

Attendees listen to Ayanna Morgan’s mother Misha Baskerville during a vigil for Morgan at Guthrie Bell Tower in Bowling Green, Ky. on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. (Dominic Di Palermo)

The conclusion of the vigil was enveloped in music, students embracing one another, and many waiting to speak to Morgan’s close family and friends. 

Both friends and family of Morgan agreed that they want her to be remembered by her constant determination.

“Ayanna never gave up,” Aerial Stuckey, one of Morgan’s best friends said. “So whatever is going on in life that makes you feel like you want to give up, you cannot give up.”

Morgan’s mother reiterated this sentiment.

“She just never gave up. It didn’t matter what kind of adversity she went through, she never gave up,” Baskerville said.

The family passed out wristbands that read “#Justice for Ayanna” and “#Forever 21.” At the inside of the bracelet reads a quote Stuckey explained Morgan used to say all the time: “this too shall pass.”

News Reporter Bailey Reed can be reached at [email protected]

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