A beautiful moment resurrected from a tragedy. Days before his Bowie State University graduation, Richard Collins III was killed in a possible hate crime. The opportunity to walk across the stage was snatched from the 23-year-old, but his school honored his memory in the most touching manner.

Along with a moment of silence led by school officials, the school also draped his would-be graduation gown over an empty front row seat in remembrance.

Photo: Neil Augenstein

Per HuffPost, University President Mickey L. Burnim posthumously conferred Collins’ degree.

Shortly before the morning of his death, Collins was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Two days later, he was fatally stabbed while awaiting an Uber.

Collins' 22-year-old attacker, University of Maryland student Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder as well as first-degree assault. He is connected to a Facebook group rife with disparaging content about people of color. It was his membership in this group that led UMD Police Department to Urbanski.

A candlelight vigil was held on Monday night in the university’s Samuel L. Myers Auditorium. Per The Baltimore Sun, Ltc. Joel Thomas had touching words to say about Collins III, noting that he will “first remember his character” when thinking of him. “Character is one of the qualities most valued in a leader,” Thomas said. “And Collins had that ― he was trustworthy, honest and dependable.”

Thomas encouraged those upset to “grieve and cry,” but also to laugh at Collins’ silliness. “Laughter has documented healing powers,” he said.

Check out the heart-rending video of Richard Collins III’s father accepting his degree:


— Tracee Wilkins (@TraceeWilkins) May 23, 2017

What a touching display after such a horrific incident. With this image, his presence will certainly live on.