“Love is always stronger than hate. If we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be nearly as strong as the love is.” – Chris Singleton

In the wake of the devastation of June 17, 2015, the faith of the Emanuel 9, their families and survivors illuminated the way: it would be by the amazing grace of God.

“Black Cloth,” by Marcus Amaker, Poet Laureate of Charleston, SC

let us no longer walk in your shoes.
you are a traveler of darkness, a walker of shadows,
cloaking yourself in a black cloth like the grim reaper
and arming your soul with the tools of a terrorist –
a misguided soldier who’s trying to start a war.

My sisters,
heaven was as close as your breath that night.
You came to Mother Emanuel to worship in the glow of God,
and speak the light that flows from love.
How beautiful of Him to hear your words
and lift you into the arms of Christ.

My brothers,
you walked toward heaven with focus,
even when your shoes were stained with the dirt of intolerance.
A black cloth lays silent at Clementa’s seat, resting under
a single rose. It was taken from our city’s soil,
where seeds of faith continue to grow.

I see heaven in your tears and feel the weight of sadness
in your voice. I’ve seen strangers hold hands
as the sun wraps us in unbearable heat,
I’ve watched children of contradiction come together
for the unity of the Holy City.

South Carolina,
nine members of your family are now in heaven
and you have to confront the reality of racism,
the dusk of pain, the lightlessness of the dawn.
Because I would rather hang a black cloth on a flag pole
than give the Confederate flag another glimpse of the sun.