Is Charleston Burning?

 Is Charleston burning? No! 

Why not? Well, I submit it is because Christians in the South, both black and white, love each other and they love Jesus. They are wise enough to not react to outside agitators and not burn their own town. And, to a certain extent, Blacks in the South, still know their place. 

But, there has been major progress in the South. Dr M L King said “the South will solve its race problem long before the North.” In the South Blacks and white have lived next to each other forever, and most white babies were suckled by Black nurse maids. And Sunday morning is no longer the most segregated time of the week. 

It is inspiring and encouraging to see the mutual respect that white and Black Christians show each other. The memorial service at Emmanuel AME was beautiful to watch. Black and white Christians singing and praying together. 

God is love. His truth is ever lasting and His mercy endures forever. Bravo Charleston. You have shown the world that Love is stronger than hate; Black and white Christians can live together in peace.

People are praying for racial accord in a city that built its initial fortunes on slavery and has been shaped in part by racial tension and violence since its founding in 1670.

The Rev. Norvel Goff at the slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s empty seat.

Charleston Appeals for Unity as Services Honor Shooting Victims

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church reopens; parishioners and civic leaders vow to build racial accord

Worshipers gathered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., for the first Sunday service on Fathers’ Day, June 21, 2015, since a shooting rampage there killed nine people.(Above: The Rev. Norvel Goff at the slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s empty seat. Photo: David Goldman/Press Pool Photo: AP)

CHARLESTON, S.C.— Community leaders and parishioners across this historic city vowed on Sunday to build racial accord in the wake of last week’s killings of nine black members of an African-American church, allegedly by a white man.

Hundreds filled the pews of the historic church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“The doors of the church are open,” declared the Rev. Norvel Goff during prayers. “No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church,” he proclaimed.

They sang hymns, prayed and remembered the nine church members shot to death Wednesday night during Bible study.

One of the victims was the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. His seat behind the podium was shrouded in black cloth and uniformed police officers were present in the side aisles.

Overcoming evil with faith in God was a theme throughout the service.

“It’s by faith that we are standing here and sitting here,” Goff said. “It has been tough. It has been rough. Some of us have been downright angry. But through it all God has sustained us.”

But as church bells rang and black and white parishioners prayed together at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the attack, and at other houses of worship, signs of how challenging that will be were apparent.

At Emanuel AME, a rapturous and racially diverse crowd packed the church, dancing, singing hymns and shaking tambourines to show that the killings could not shake the resolve or faith of one of the oldest black churches in the nation.

Churchgoers lined the walls and crowded the balcony in bow ties and three-piece suits. Hundreds of people stood in the streets, near speakers, to listen to the service. Numerous police officers guarded the proceedings, and teams of grief counselors were on hand.

A lot of people expected us to do something strange and break out into a riot,” the Rev. Norvel Goff said from the pulpit. “Well, they just don’t know us. They don’t know us because we are a people of faith.” He praised the city for responding with love and compassion.

The minister also vowed to pursue justice for those slain. “We’re going to be vigilant, and we’re going to hold our elected officials responsible to do the right thing,” he said, calling for justice for “those who are still living in the margins of life.”

Charleston built its initial fortunes on slavery and has been shaped in part by racial tension and violence since its founding in 1670. The first shots of the Civil War were fired here, and much of its robust tourist industry plays to notions of a genteel antebellum South, a gentility that was propped up by the institution of slavery.

Over the past few decades the city has changed dramatically, with major companies relocating to the region and upscale shops and vogue restaurants dotting the downtown.

Large banners appeared on some buildings after the shootings, urging racial harmony. An interracial rally was planned for Sunday evening across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, a dramatic span that dominates the city skyline.

Yet outer neighborhoods and nearby communities are impoverished, and many say racial tensions fueled by economic disparities and other issues linger beneath the surface.

 

As congregants left the church, a large, mostly white crowd greeted them by singing the song “Amazing Grace,” a show of support that brought tears to many peoples’ eyes as they stepped into the hot South Carolina sun.

A little more than a mile away, about 150 parishioners, almost all of them white, gathered for Holy Communion at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, one of the oldest parishes in the city. Both George Washington and Robert E. Lee once prayed at this ornate church, built in the 1700s, and Charles Pinckney, a signer of the Constitution and a prominent slave-owner, is buried in the adjacent graveyard.

Alfred T.K. Zadig Jr., the 47- year-old rector of St. Michael’s, said he was having dinner only a block away from Emanuel when the shooting took place Wednesday night, and the tragedy made him realize how little connection he had to the city’s black churches.

“I did not know one single person in that church,” said. Mr. Zadig, who has been St. Michael’s rector for eight years. The church now is committing itself to building a relationship with Charleston’s black churches, including contributing money to help Emanuel and inviting members of Emanuel to preach at St. Michael’s, the pastor said.

(By Cameron McWhirter, Josh Dawsey and Mara Gay)

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Categories: American History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Is Charleston Burning?

  1. Randy Winn

    Lonnie,
    Wonderful message. I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to know and work with many black men (not many women in engineering) all over our country and can say that all of them are just plain good folks. I hadn’t noticed that there were no riots or even demonstrations, nut of course if there were no really bad things happening, there would be no national notice – no news.
    I have both(?) of your books, the last one about the court martial was a good read, but a really ROTTEN SITUATION. Was he Merle’s grandson? People can live and work together, but prejudice and stupidity seem to hang on forever.
    Randy

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