BOWIE, Md. (ABC7) — Almost from the moment three years ago that Lt. Richard Collins III was murdered on the campus of the University of Maryland in what prosecutors called a hate crime, his parents Dawn and Richard vowed to try to make the world a better place in their son's name.
"This is an assignment we've been given and we're gonna do everything we can to carry out this assignment to the best of our abilities," says Richard Collins II.
RELATED: Sean Urbanski found guilty of first-degree murder in fatal stabbing of Richard Collins III
Thursday marks a bittersweet double victory for them. A new law named after Collins III making it easier to prosecute hate crimes takes effect and to prevent such tragedies in the first place. The presidents of the University of Maryland and Bowie State announced a new social justice alliance between the schools also named after Collins III who was due to graduate from Bowie State days after his murder.
RELATED: Md. strengthens hate crime law named after slain Bowie St. student as new laws take effect
"We are here today to say change must happen and it starts with us," said Bowie President Dr. Amanita Breaux at a virtual launch of the program Thursday.
The schools will collaborate on curriculum and share ideas. Students from Bowie State, a historically black college, will get to know students at Maryland. Bowie State students Ehi Abuede and Mi'Jan Cradle think it's a great idea.
RELATED: Jury to decide if Bowie State student's killing on U. of Maryland campus was hate crime
Cradle says, "We're all different. We all form opinions in different ways and once we acknowledge that it is easier to bring us together. I think I have lessons I can teach and lessons I can learn as well," says Abuede.
Dawn Collins says her son, who believed deeply in unity would be pleased. "I know he is somewhere saying go mom and dad. Go. You stand up for what is right and that is what we're doing," she says.