In a morning memorial of prayer, poetry and song, there was one clear message: Charles Foster Jr.s work will not be forgotten and it will not stop.
Foster, 24, was the first homicide of 2013 after he was shot in the chest on New Years Day at Club Majestic. Police charged two young men in connection with Fosters death and the wounding of six other men and women at the nightclub.
Dequandrea Artavas Truitt and Shaquille Porter are scheduled to stand trial Feb. 17.
At the time of his death, Foster was close to earning a degree in the spring from Columbus State University. A bachelors degree was presented posthumously at his funeral on Jan. 5, 2013.
On Saturday morning, more than two dozen friends, family and other citizens gathered across from the now-closed Club Majestic on Cusseta Road to remember Fosters life and to focus on the work that has been accomplished since his death.
The Rev. Willie Phillips opened with a reading from the 23rd Psalm, which begins, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.
Charles sister, Latoria, recited a poem which took the form of an open letter to her brother.
As long as Im alive, your memory will forever live on, she said. Your name will never be forgotten. I call your name every time I think about you.
The memorial also included comments from several local ministers.
Standing next to Charles mother, Jessie Foster, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson proclaimed Jan. 4, 2014, Charles Foster Jr. Day, reading from a long list of Charles accomplishments as a servant leader.
The Foster family was also presented with a Georgia State Senate resolution, prepared by Sen. Ed Harbison, which recognizes Charles for excelling as an honor student in school, completing community service projects at Andrew College and starting a program to collect canned good for families living at a drug rehabilitation center.
Speaking after the memorial, Tomlinson reiterated the citys commitment to reducing senseless, reckless violence.
Following Fosters death, Club Majestic was closed; the city also focused on a group of Decatur Court businesses, letting them know we would not tolerate what was going on in those areas, Tomlinson said.
The Hole was shut down, and then demolished. Marios and the Club Sky are being investigated, the mayor confirmed.
All businesses owners need to know youre welcome in Columbus, Ga. Youre welcome to do business and to make a great living, Tomlinson said. But you will not make money off a criminal haven and you will not make money off a place where people act recklessly and where violence occurs.
Jessie Foster was visibly overwhelmed during the ceremony.
Speaking afterward, she urged Columbus youth to realize that they are the communitys future.
Our young people need to come together and quit all this violence, she said.
Staff writer Ben Wright contributed to this story.