The Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom saw over 300 students, faculty, family and community members come together to celebrate the life of Amara Marluke, on Saturday, April 9. Marluke was a freshman at PSU who was shot and killed on Monday, April 4 at age 19. The celebration of life event was organized in her memory.
Amara Marluke’s perseverance through an incredibly turbulent and neglectful childhood propelled her to become an advocate against injustice as well as an ally for others.
“She was relentless and graduated [high school] with honors at 18, despite being two years behind when we adopted her,” explained her mother, Amy Marluke.
Her accomplishments throughout her young life are inspiring to both those who knew her and those learning about her. The program included the playing of one of her songs called “Love is Blind,” which lyrically details the intricacies of relationships.
“Amara made me stronger, [she] made me braver,” Amy Marluke said.
Friends and family gave unwavering testimonials to Amara Marluke’s exceptional character, adding to the stark tragedy of this loss. Clear admiration set the tone for the event, and some of her past speeches were also played.
“I have a dream, I have a plan and I have hope,” said Amara Marluke during one of her recorded speeches. “I refuse to believe anyone’s path is predestined.”
“I was in awe of Amara’s ability to unite,” said Richard Arnold, a faculty member of Sunset High School where Marluke attended.
Amara Marluke’s family, Richard Arnold and PSU President Stephen Percy all alluded to upcoming scholarships created in Marluke’s name. Her legacy will be carried on through scholarships aiming to provide more opportunities to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and disadvantaged youth, specifically those who have been in foster care.
“It was just a privilege to experience her positivity,” said friend Chloe Bernard.
Percy called for a moment of silence to recognize the loss of Amara Marluke at the beginning of the ceremony, and after learning about her bright, loud, audacious personality, that silence proved significant.
Amara Marluke’s story remains half-written—a song unfinished. Her memory will be carried among the PSU community and within her work with the Black Student Union and various social justice projects.
In the words of Amy Marluke, “she lived to fight the world.”
And the world will keep fighting for her.
A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of the Marluke family for those interested in donating. If you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic violence, visit resources such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline or SHAC (Student Health and Counseling) for immediate assistance.