“A beautiful soul with a bright future”: Honoring the life of Keeshanna Jackson


Jared Treece | @bisalo

A group comfort each other during a vigil was held for Keeshanna Jackson, a SIU freshmen who was shot and killed early Sunday morning. The vigil was held in front of Davies Hall on Sunday, August 22, 2021 at SIU.

On Sunday, Aug. 22, SIUC freshman Keeshanna Jackson was shot and killed at 3:12 am on 501 W. Cherry on her way back to her dorm. 

Jackson attended a college party like hundreds of other students during Solar Bear weekend. what was meant to be a fun weekend for students to let off some steam after syllabus week, ended in tragedy.

Jackson’s friends and family members gathered in front of Davies Hall, 16 hours later to honor the beautiful, bubbly and funny soul that she was . Community members were asked to bring blue and white balloons to let go of at the end of the event. 


Jackson’s friends wore shirts with ‘Long Live Shanna’ and a photo of Jackson on the front. Community members brought flowers to lay in front of the photos and memorial of Shanna placed by her friends in front of the trees outside the hall. 

Pastor Christopher Sims of Hopewell Baptist Church led a prayer for the mourners to begin the vigil. 

“We come here with broken hearts, confused, angry, upset. I’m grateful tonight to know that no matter what our emotions are, you’re God enough to be able to handle them,” Sims prayed . “Even with our questions, you’re big enough, and you’re God enough to be able to handle the questions of her family.”

Sims also asked God to watch  over the students of SIUC. 

“I bleed the blood of Jesus over every college student on this campus right now, over every dormitory, over every classroom. I pray for your divine protection. We don’t have to live in fear but I pray that you give us the strength to be able to walk in wisdom and live in wisdom,” Sims said. 

Jackson’s childhood and college friends shared fond memories of the freshman. 

Koran Snulligan said he met Jackson at the grocery store where he asked to connect with her via  Facebook. Snulligan recalled Jackson saying, “Boy if you wanted my number just say that.”


According to Snulligan, Jackson initially wanted to wait  a year for SIUC to continue to work at her nail business. 

“She said that she wanted to defer a year because she learned how to do nails by watching YouTube videos in her living room,” Snulligan said. 

Snulligan said Jackson decided not to defer and continue doing nails while attending school. 

“I helped her do her housing [contract], I made sure she was able to come here. She packed all of her stuff in a U-Haul,” Snulligan said. “She paid for her own U-Haul to get all the way down here.”

Snulligan remembers Jackson as a joyful person who shared her joy with those around her. 

“In any situation she would make you laugh and smile,” Snulligan said. “I don’t want anyone to leave here sad. I want you all to remember her life.”

Snulligan said the vigil was meant to act as a celebration of life for Shanna and said she is resting in a better place now. 

“Ain’t nothing down here for her no more. I’m okay with that because it’s so much better up there then it is down here,” Snulligan said. “She has been through too much for her to end up like this. So we’re not going to think about the bad. We’re going to think about the good and the kind of person she was and who she wanted to be.” 

Andrea Brooks met Shanna last week during move-in. Brooks said the two quickly became close and remembered Shanna’s beautiful smile. Shanna was fun, goofy, and talented at her craft, Brooks  said. 

“She was everything. I’m going to make sure I graduate for her because she couldn’t,” Davis said.

She said the community needs to look out for one another not only in times of tragedy. 

“It’s dangerous out here. I hope everybody stays safe. This following year, I don’t want to see any more deaths. I don’t want us to come together for death. I want us to come together for celebration, or graduation or birthday or wedding or anything else,” Davis said. 

Father Brown, Professor of Africana Studies at SIUC, provided physical and verbal support to those close to Shanna and the rest of the SIUC community as they gathered in a circle around the vigil. 

“This is a circle that has more power than anything I have seen on this campus in 20 years,” Brown said. “Us old people on the faculty ain’t got nothing to teach y’all. Y’all have everything to teach us.” 

Brown said Snulligan spoke words of truth and strength over the community despite the grief he was experiencing. 

“I know some stories of pain and trauma in this group, that nobody should ever have to go through. I watched it myself. In all these years I have buried too many children on this campus,” Brown said. 

He  said the community should never say Jackson is gone but instead let her spirit live on. 

“She’s the reason we’re here, and she’s gonna be the reason we walk away. She got more to teach us then she ever could have as a freshman,” Brown said. 

He said Shanna’s life and presence should teach us all important lessons. 

“Let her talk to you in the quiet time on a walk somewhere, honor her by hearing her. Then, honor yourselves by making sure that we […] stop this from happening,” he  said. 

Brown said we aren’t where we’re supposed to be but he has hope the SIUC students can be the light to outshine the darkness that led to Jackson’s sudden death. 

Grace Gunn, member of USG, reminded the community to offer support to the friends and family of Jackson beyond the vigil. 

“I just want to take a minute to highlight the beautiful spirit that all these students standing before you right now have, and what the impact of this tragedy will have on them,” Gunn said “You cannot just forget them after you leave today, because these young people need to be uplifted and thought about every day.”

Gunn said the community should give them the space and support they need and directly asked black students at the vigil to raise their hands to show the community the mourners have behind them. 

Shanna’s family and friends urged anyone with any information on the shooting  to report it to the police. 

Carbondale Police Department can be contacted via phone at (618) 457-3200. 

Community members are also encouraged to report any information or suspicious activity to the Carbondale/SIU Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (618) 549-COPS (2677) or the Murphysboro/Jackson County anonymous tip line at (618) 687-COPS (2677).


Editor-in-Chief Oreoluwa Ojewuyi can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @odojewuyi

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