Students gathered around a metal bench on the Suffolk County Community Campus in Northampton, which was dedicated in honor of Demitri Hampton, a former student and founding member of the school’s Black Male Network and Black Males Associates Network.
Current students in the organization and its advisor, professor James Banks, spoke to the type of person Mr. Hampton was and how important it is to act as he did during his life.
“Demitri was, and is, a hero who stood up by defending his family as they were being robbed,” Mr. Banks said. “Too often young African-American men are taken away before their time. They are lost to us all.”
Mr. Hampton died in January 2013 at age 21 when two masked men stormed into his cousin’s home, where he was staying, around 3 a.m. Mr. Hampton rushed upstairs to confront the armed men and was shot in the chest as he tried to fight them off. He later died at a nearby hospital.
A wooden bench that was purchased by students was originally dedicated in Mr. Hampton’s honor in 2013 but later began decaying, Mr. Banks said. A new metal bench was then ordered, which was rededicated Wednesday morning.
“When we dedicated the first bench we had a bell on it so people could ring it as they passed,” Mr. Banks said. “Somehow that bell disappeared, but anytime we pass this bench we should remember and honor Demitri Hampton because he is one of us and will always be one of us.”
Additionally, a magnolia tree was planted next to the bench. The tree was chosen because it blooms with purple flowers in the spring, which symbolizes Mr. Hampton since purple was his favorite color, Mr. Banks said.
Mr. Hampton’s uncle, Tim Hampton, also spoke at the rededication honoring his nephew and thanked those at Suffolk County Community College for all their love and support throughout the years.
“Demitri’s gone, but you all are still here and we are our brothers people,” he said. “Our family has made peace with it. Not only with the loss, but even with those who have taken part in his loss. We need forgiveness, we need kindness.”
A moment of silence was also held for Mr. Hampton, as it is at each BMN meeting, Mr. Banks said.
Students in BMN also spoke to the legacy Mr. Hampton left behind him, and thanked him for being a founding member of their organization.
“I think us as a Suffolk County Community College, we should appreciate these times that we have together and also with people we lost,” Jamal Browne, president of BMN, said. “I know we take things for granted and it could have been one of us that lost our lives. We don’t know what’s coming after this, so we should appreciate these times we have.”
Photo caption: Professor James Banks speaks to a group of students in attendance at Wednesday morning’s memorial for Demitri Hampton, a former Suffolk County Community College student who died in 2013. (Credit: Nicole Smith)