Following last week’s event in Charleston and the media frenzy that followed. I can’t help but thinking that the news coverage in today’s culture is contributing to the problem. So as an alternative, here’s the message one Charleston resident wants you to here. The prayer vigil referenced took place Friday.
I have never been more proud of my city or its people. The prayer vigil tonight was the most important moment I have ever experienced (and hopefully always will be). “These nine lives were intended to be a spark. God wants Charleston to be a lighthouse for our nation. God wants Charleston because Charleston loves one another.” (Charleston County council Chairman Elliott Summey). “This man drove 100 miles to bring his hate to Charleston. That hate/that evil did not come from one of our own. But he wasn’t an alien. We need to start a loving dialogue to find out where that hate is coming from.” (Mayor Riley) “He wanted to expose our diversity as a weakness and start some kind of a Civil War where we tear each other apart. He failed! His [delusional views of racial inequality] have long since been in the dustbin of failed civilization! Our diversity is our strength. We look one another in the eye [and see God and love].” Our white mayor of 40 years and black clergy from throughout the city (who are longtime friends) swayed and sang hymns together in an embrace (along with thousands of Charlestonians of every race, religion and socioeconomic status). The mayor then announced that the Charleston Wharf where 60% of America’s slaves were brought into this country is going to be the site of the National African American Museum to tell the history our schoolbooks lacked. And the portion about our black churches will be dedicated to Mother Emanuel AME and these nine lives. We learned that We Shall Overcome–the peaceful anthem of so many civilian efforts in countries far and wide–was written on Johns Island, and we sang it together holding hands with crossed arms. And then thousands silently (without direction or prompting) silently processed to Mother Emanuel AME church and laid down our long stem roses at its gate. The most profoundly beautiful moment of my life. Anderson Cooper is there, silently, respectfully observing. And I hope this is the story America and the world is hearing. “This is our time.” #charlestonunited
— Erin Lenahan Holley, Charleston Resident
Image: Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Charleston, S.C., by Spencer Means