Last night, June 17th, a white gunman carried out a terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, during a weekly prayer meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the largest and oldest black congregations in America.
There is a tragic history in this country of black churches being targeted by racists, and it’s a lineage that Emanuel has combatted since its inception centuries ago. Emanuel was founded in 1816, following a dispute over a burial ground for free blacks and slaves outside another Charleston church. According to CNN, soon after, one of Emanuel's first pastors and other church leaders were jailed for violating a law prohibiting slaves and free blacks from meeting without white supervision. In 1822, the church was burned to derail plans for a slave revolt, and 35 people were executed by the state, including the church’s architect, himself a former slave. At the time, black churches were outlawed, but services continued in secret until the end of the Civil War. Later, during the civil rights era of the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke there, and the church was also home to a protest led by Coretta Scott King at which 900 people were arrested, according to ABC News.
Today, Emanuel AME Church’s senior pastor, state Senator Clementa Pinckney, is among nine congregation members dead.
It was there before this tragedy happened, to process regular donations. As we watch this terrible and terribly familiar situation unfold, sending money to this remarkable church is one small way to do something.