It’s been more than 20 years since I called Charleston, South Carolina my home, but it’s held on to a piece of my heart for all that time, waiting for me to return. I can still feel the balmy, warm air on my skin, taste the salt of the ocean drying on my lips. See the smiles of Charleston’s people, all races from all walks of life, welcoming me to their community, accepting me as their own.
Late last evening, when news about the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston came across my screen, I was speechless. My parents, who were here visiting from New Jersey, Mark and I all sat here with phones in our hands or laptops open, scrolling live updates. 8 souls shot to death (and later another would succumb to injuries to bring the total up to 9) in their own beautiful, historic house of worship. Their murderer, whose name I will never waste one second on, was welcomed in, sat through almost an hour of bible study before beginning his hate-fueled killing spree.
This racist, terroristic, shameful, hateful act has torn a hole in a tight-knight, loving community of people. Mothers, fathers. Grandmothers, husbands and wives. Sons, daughters. Gone. Gone because of one cowardly, hate-filled heart. I’ve prayed for Charleston, for her people today. For the people who are left behind with the pain of unimaginable loss.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 years old.
DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49 years old.
Cynthia Hurd, 54 years old.
Susie Jackson, 87 years old.
Clementa Pinckney, 41 years old.
Ethel Lance, 70 years old.
Tywanza Sanders, 28 years old.
Daniel Simmons, 74 years old.
Myra Thompson, 59 years old.