June 17, 2015
On June 17, 2015, an evening of church meetings and Bible Study ended in tragedy for a group of the church’s clergy and members who welcomed a 21-year-old man to join them. That young man opened fire on the group, killing nine of them.
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.
“To heal we must forgive. That’s what I’ve learned this past year…So much hate. Too much. But as scripture says, ‘Love never fails.’ So, I choose love. Hatred…Racism…Injustice. We can’t hide from these truths. Together we can fight for change. Together we can heal. Together we can love.”
– Polly Sheppard, Survivor
The loving forgiveness espoused by the survivors of the Massacre and the family members of those slain helped to initiate an atmosphere of hopeful reconciliation that spread throughout the Charleston community and touched those who heard the survivors’ stories. The tragedy of that day gave birth to beautiful acts of kindness and meaningful community initiatives that helped people touched by the tragedy to heal to unite in their grief.
The Massacre at Mother Emanuel remains the deadliest mass shooting in South Carolina’s history and one of the deadliest racially motivated mass shootings in modern American history.
“This memorial will honor the Emanuel Nine and celebrate the grace in forgiveness from the victims’ families, spirit of resiliency shown by the survivors, church members, the community of Charleston and the world by coming together as one. Ultimately it will inspire people and communities everywhere to rise above racism and overcome hate with love.”
– Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, Pastor, Mother Emanuel AME Church