There has been widespread emotion throughout the country and the world surrounding the tragic events that happened at 110 Calhoun Street on a fateful Wednesday evening.? A rallying cry has been heard from coast to coast from religious leaders to academics to citizens who have been taken back by one unforgivable act.
We would like to share some of the personal thoughts and commentary shared in the last few weeks:
My continued hope for Charleston is that our darkest days are behind us. I still hear the church bells ringing, filling the emptiness that was Charleston on the night of September 11, 2001. On that day, I could not fathom why we as humans, who have the capability to love, turned against each other. My solace was knowing that My Charleston, was somehow better than that.? This Holy City, where the citizens epitomize grace and hospitality, could not turn against itself.
I was proven wrong, a few months later, on January 20, 2002, as I cowered in my apartment on Elizabeth Street, hoping the violence outside would stay just there, in the courtyard of Second Presbyterian Church.? Marko Dupree Drayton was captured after his downtown shooting spree left a Charleston Police officer and an MUSC liver transplant coordinator dead. It was hard to step outside again. It was hard to trust that the person passing on the sidewalk didn’t wish me harm. But Charleston healed with time. Unfortunately, Drayton’s rampage has repeated itself with increasing frequency, and it somehow feels like the norm
A most disturbing aspect of what has happened is the obvious symbolism. Having attended a funeral and a wedding at the AME church, I know very well how warm and welcoming the congregation is. While I sometimes feel like an outsider at my own church, AME knows no outsiders. I think about the wolf in sheep’s clothing, offered acceptance, love and fellowship, for the moments before he stole so many lives… The only thing I can do at this point is to reflect on Matthew 5:44. Love your enemies – pray for them.
This tragedy, on the eve of the anniversary of the Fallen Charleston Nine, has left our community wounded. This morning, I passed my neighbor on the street and cast my eyes down. Fear has returned. The trust is broken. My Charleston has once again fallen from grace but it shouldn’t. I challenge us all to look the next person you pass on the street in the eyes, and nod in kindness and understanding, knowing we have each other’s backs. My Charleston, your Charleston, will again heal.