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Calls for justice and memories of a ISU graduate student driven to achieve his goals

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Jelani Day's parents

NORMAL (WEEK) - The search for Jelani Day has turned to a search for justice after the Illinois State University graduate student was found dead last month in LaSalle County, Day's mother told mourners attending a memorial service Thursday at ISU's Redbird Arena.

During the nearly two-hour service, Carmen Bolden Day reiterated her frustration how law enforcement, including the Bloomington Police Department, handled the investigation leading to the discovery of the young man's body in the Illinois River.

She called on Illinois State Police and the FBI to make sure Bloomington and LaSalle County authorities do their job to "find out what happened to my son."

Bolden Day said her son is changing the world, even in death.

"I want the world to know that Black and Brown people deserve the same as any other color."

"The way we had to deal with police officials who are paid and trained to service us. No more," she said.

Besides calls for justice, Jelani Day was remembered in music and dance, performed by a ensemble created in his name, and in a poem written by Jazmyn Thomas, a member of the Multicultural Center's advisory council.

"Jelani, I didn't know you personally, but you're the sort of person that I want to be," said Thomas.

"When Black men move their tassels and toss up their graduation caps to the far-reaching sky, my eyes will see Jelani," Thomas said.

Amanda Regez represented Day's classmates. She said there are few men working to become speech language pathologists, and it's even more rate for a Black man to choose that career.

"Jelani was proud to represent both," Regez said.

She said he treated his classmates like family.

"Jelani was a strong, intelligent man who was making in impact in his community, and in our program," she said.

"This meant everything to him," said Regez.

She said Day will be remembered as "happy, positive, and hardworking," and driven to achieve his goals.

Howard Packowitz

Paige Blanzy

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