During the 24 hours after the shooting of the “Emanuel 9” (the nine people murdered after a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church), I was in awe.
I live in Summerville, S.C., 30 minutes from Charleston. I say I was in awe because I believed that that type of hate no longer existed. I was upset that the church welcomed Dylann Roof (the shooter) to the Bible study with open arms, and he disrespected their kindness by murdering them.
However, I was also in awe because Charleston was getting respect. We weren’t being called ratchet, and we weren’t being called unruly by America. Americans were calling Charleston strong.
I am used to people praising Charleston for its rich history, including its past with slavery and the Civil War. I have had people praise Charleston as a great vacation spot. After the shooting people had an even greater respect for Charleston. I watched in awe as there were peaceful rallies and protests.
I watched as people were on social media using #PrayersForCharleston or #CharlestonStrong to support the city.
I went to Atlanta a few days after the shooting, and I was in awe as people took their time to tell my friends and I how much they respected Charleston for staying strong after the shooting. They said they were sorry that something tragic like that happened to our city.
Yet, it was in that moment that I realized that could have been any city in the South, and it would have caused the same return of sorrow. People tend to forget that Charleston has been strong for the last 200 years.
Charleston was destroyed by war, and it took several decades for the city to be reconstructed. That is strong. Hurricane Hugo ripped through Charleston in 1989, and people got together to rebuild Charleston. That is strong. Nine firefighters died in a sofa store fire in 2007, and people supported the family members of those brave firefighters. That is strong. That is Charleston strong!
I listened on the radio, Friday, June 19 when family members of the nine victims were in the courtroom and forgave Dylann Roof for his actions. How strong does a person have to be to forgive the man who murdered members of their family two days earlier? I have heard of people forgiving murderers years and years later, but two days later is new to me.
When nine people were murdered after a Bible study, the nation respected Charleston’s peacefulness and the history of that church. I agree; Charleston is strong.
Because of Dylann Roof’s actions, Charleston’s strength and the unity of the state, the Confederate flag was removed from the grounds of the South Carolina State House. That is Charleston strong!