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Community Rallies Around Mother Emanuel AME Tragedy
6/19/2015 1:35:16 PM

The scene inside Morris Brown AME during the June 18th prayer vigil. Photo by Tolbert Smalls, Jr.

Illustration by Jeremy Darby

Chronicle Staff reports

Overwhelming support has been shown both locally and nationally for Mother Emanuel AME in light of the murders of nine Black churchgoers, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson. Below are various statements of encouragement, faith, and love towards the families involved and historic Black church. 

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison:

“As we mourn, we should remember the spirit of those gathered at Mother Emanuel last night. We should hold their love in our hearts. My friend, State Senator Clementa Pinckney, was a husband, a father, a son, a pastor, and much more.  He was compassionate, caring, stoic, and he brought people together for all the right reasons. He was a great man."

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore: 

"Our hearts ache for the friends and families of State Senator Clementa Pinckney and the eight others who were senselessly murdered. We lift them up in prayer as well as the congregation of Emanuel AME church.

"'Emanuel' literally means 'God is with us.' We know that He is with the victims and congregation at Emanuel - and that as the Apostle Matthew said, 'Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'

U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn: 

It is with great sadness that I heard of the unspeakable tragedy that occurred in Charleston last night.  My heart goes out to the victims, including State Senator Clementa Pinckney, their friends and family and members of Emanuel AME Church.  I am distraught that this kind of hate still exists in our country and specifically in my home state of South Carolina.  I'm reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." We must take these horrific crimes that are happening across our states and teach our neighbors that hate is not the answer.  Please pray with me today for the Charleston community as they begin the healing process.

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of

“The ColorOfChange community offers its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in this unspeakable tragedy and the AME community at large. This day will be remembered as one of the worst mass shootings targeting South Carolina's Black community in history.

“We support the Department's Civil Rights Division, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office decision to investigate this hate crime and are confident they will prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

“Nothing short of a national people-led movement to transform the policies, practices, institutions and culture that keep anti-Black racism alive will prevent us from mourning yet another tragic massacre 50 years from now.”

Allen University on the loss of two alumni:

"The youngest victim was Mr. Tywanza Sanders -2014 graduate of the Division of Business Administration. He was a quiet, well known student who was committed to his education. He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues. Mr. Sanders was participating in the Bible Study session at Mother Emanuel church at the time of the shooting.
Allen University also mourns the loss of one its most prominent alums, State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Senator Pinckney along with Mr. Tywanza Sanders was shot and killed last night at the historic Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. Senator Pinckney was a brilliant young pastor and leader who always possessed an empowering and healing message. Most recently, he was Allen University’s 2015 Founders’ Day speaker. The death of Senator Pinckney is a significant loss for the State of South Carolina and the African Methodist Episcopal church. He has impacted the lives of those in his congregation as well as members of the South Carolina Legislature and beyond."

SC Senator Tim Scott:

"The horror that occurred at Mother Emanuel last night has truly devastated our community. Emanuel AME means so much to so many, and we stand by them today as they mourn the loss of their leader and brothers and sisters in Christ. Pastor Pinckney was a good man, an honest man and a wonderful representative for his congregation.

Lucy McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis and Everytown Faith Outreach Leader:  

“We send our thoughts and prayers to the Charleston and AME communities today. Last night’s events bring me to tears, but I know all too well that we also need far more than thoughts and prayers to ensure no other community is forced to endure this unthinkable tragedy. America is faced with a unique national crisis in which we cannot even go to church—a sacred place where we should feel safe to worship—without the threat of gun violence. Unbelievably easy access to guns in our country emboldens dangerous and ill-intentioned individuals to carry out unthinkable crimes. This crisis calls for solutions that will reduce our nation’s alarming rate of gun violence that kills 88 Americans every single day. Our work to prevent gun violence can both respect the Second Amendment and honor the Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill.”  

Sylvie Dessau, SC Chapter of Moms Demand Action:

“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims who were senselessly killed Wednesday night as they attended a prayer meeting. While the details are still unfolding, nine innocent lives were taken and others were injured as a result of last night’s horrific mass shooting. South Carolina needs to focus on keeping guns out of dangerous hands, which would help prevent future tragedies. It’s time we stand up for the safety of South Carolinians and work to reduce gun violence that continues to claim too many lives across the state.”  

YWCA Greater Charleston:

Rev. Pinckney was a friend to the organization, and he was a steadfast partner for social justice. He and the entire Mother Emanuel congregation were welcoming hosts for our Requiem on Racism two months ago and Rev. Pinckney committed to partnering with us to continue to build on that message of racial unity in the community. As a leader in the SC State Senate, Rev. Pinckney was an unwavering proponent for strengthening domestic violence laws, and was integral in getting much-needed police body cam legislation passed. It is unbelievable that he is no longer here. He was a compassionate, energetic man committed to the betterment of our community, for ALL people, and his death is a tremendous loss.

This incident reminds us that we are living in fragile times and that there is still much work to be done to drive out hatred in our society. We hope that all members of the community will remember that only through respect and a willingness to work together will we be able to find peace. Our hearts are heavy and we pray for the church family and the families of all of the victims.

Video of Reverend Pinckney’s opening prayer at the YWCA of Greater Charleston’s  “Requiem on Racism”, April 26, 2015, Courtesy of Brenda J. Peart TRT 2:19-3:46

SC State University on victim and alumnus Sharonda Coleman-Singleton:

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a beloved alumna of SC State University who earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology in 1991. She excelled in the classroom and was a stellar student athlete, who helped lead the university’s track and field program to powerhouse status as a member of a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship Team (1987-88).  She was a member of the Lady Bulldog track and field team for four seasons.


As the Bulldog family mourns her death, we remember her for the unique gifts and talents she brought to the university as a student, and we celebrate the life she lived as an adult committed to faith, family and public service.


U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson:

I am shocked and saddened to hear of the disheartening news regarding last night’s shooting in Charleston, SC. My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors and loved ones of the victims of this tragedy at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. Among the victims was Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, pastor of the church and a dynamic state senator. A faithful public servant, his impact on parishioners is purely evident today as members of the Charleston community band together in solidarity.

Charleston Mayoral candidate John Tecklenburg: 

For almost 200 years, Mother Emanuel AME Church has been a sanctuary of peace and love in our community, a place where men and women of faith have come together for prayer and fellowship in good times and bad. Last night, that sanctuary was desecrated by an act of pure evil that took the lives of nine of our fellow citizens, including my friend, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.  

But that single evil act, horrific as it is, does not define us.  

Common Cause:  

“We join our fellow South Carolinians and Americans of goodwill everywhere in mourning Wednesday’s senseless murder of our friend, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, and eight other worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Our hearts are broken for the families of those lost, the community of Charleston, and the nation.

“As a state senator, Rep. Pinckney worked with Common Cause on whistleblower protections, conflict of interest and campaign finance issues. He was an eloquent and tireless advocate on behalf of the public interest and we were honored to work with him.

“This tragic event evokes so many awful memories of other difficult days in our long journey toward racial justice and reconciliation. Today, we honor the memory of those lost on Wednesday by re-dedicating ourselves to completing that journey.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch: 

As we move forward, my thoughts and prayers – and those of our entire law enforcement community, here at the Department of Justice and around the country – are with the families and loved ones of the victims in Charleston.  Even as we struggle to comprehend this heartbreaking event, I want everyone in Charleston – and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy – to know that we will do everything in our power to help heal this community and make it whole again.

The Palmetto Family Council:

Palmetto Family Council, the state's largest evangelical public policy organization, abhors the racial and religious hatred represented by the massacre at Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday night. This depraved act was clearly the result of a poisonous, anti-Christian ideology that we condemn in the strongest of terms.
Earlier this week, several Palmetto Family board members and staff were honored to help celebrate the anniversary of the CRC, an organization founded in 1964 to promote racial unity. Two weeks ago, Palmetto Family held the most diverse event in our 20 year history, in an evening dedicated to religious freedom. We remain deeply committed to promoting a message of love and gospel reconciliation in diverse communities across our state and we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Christ in their hour of grief.

American Federation of Government Employees:

"By all accounts, the women and men who were gathered at Emanuel AME Church for their weekly Bible study welcomed into their group the young man who would later turn his gun on them in a brutal act of racial hatred.

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims and to the entire community. We at AFGE headquarters will be gathering together this afternoon for a moment of reflection and contemplation, and we encourage other employers to allow their workers to do the same.

Rev. Kenneth Taylor, President, National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus:

To the people of Charleston:

We, the Black Catholic clergy and religious from throughout the United States wish to extend to you our prayers during this time of tragedy.  We especially lift up to the Lord the lives of the nine individuals who were killed and the members of their families.  We also lift up to the Lord the members of Emanuel AME Church.

This tragedy is made all the more disturbing as it happened during a time while people were praying and rejoicing in their relationship with the Lord.  But it is exactly that faith that we need to call upon at this time.  While our faith assures us that God will care for those whose lives were taken, it also motivates the rest of us to do what we can to bring these types of tragedies to an end.

We reach out to you in a special way because we have already planned that our annual Joint Conference will be held in Charleston during the last week of July.  While we are gathered in your city, you will continue to have our support as we are bonded by faith.

Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton: 

When I got to Las Vegas, I learned about the horrific massacre in the church. You know the shock and pain of this crime of hate strikes deep. Nine people—women and men—cut down at prayer.  Murdered in a .house of God.  It just broke my heart. That of course is the last place we should ever see violence. We shouldn’t see it anywhere.

CBC Chairman and U.S. Representative G. K. Butterfield:

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Emanuel AME has long stood as a place of refuge in times of distress and comfort in times of sorrow.  It is where congregants joined together to worship, celebrate and find peace.  It is difficult to comprehend that a house of worship known for joy and tolerance could become a scene of hate and tragedy.


“My deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences are with the families of the nine parishioners who lost their lives to cowardly and despicable violence.  Last night’s shooting is inexcusable, senseless and will not be tolerated in our country.  I ask that we come together in prayer for the victims’ families and the entire Charleston community, and hope that the swift pursuit of justice will provide some comfort in this time of unimaginable grief.”  

Trident United Way President and CEO Chris F. Kerrigan:

In the wake of the senseless tragedy that occurred Wednesday night in Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Trident United Way wishes to
convey its sincerest condolences to all individuals affected by this heartbreaking violence. Trident United Way offers its support and sympathy to all those suffering, as we mourn the loss of the lives of nine innocent community members.

Trident United Way is deeply saddened by the loss of one our state’s most inspirational young lawmakers and spiritual leaders: State Senator, Reverend Clementa Pinckney. It is with great sorrow that we remember the inspirational leadership, consistent voice of compassion and selfless service of Senator Pinckney. His unparalleled commitment to bettering lives not only in the Charleston community, but also throughout our entire state, will always serve as a source of pride for all South Carolinians. 


Local donation efforts:

For those who want to respond to the tragic event that occurred on June 17th at the Mother Emanuel Church, donors are asked to give in one of two ways:

By using the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund

This City of Charleston’s fund will provide direct financial support for the funeral and burial expenses of the nine victims of the senseless tragedy. Any funds remaining after the funeral and burial expenses are paid will be donated directly to the Emanuel AME Church for use as determined by its governance board. Donations to this fund are not tax-deductible. These denotations can be made in one of three ways …. 

1. By sending a check to 
Mother Emanuel Hope Fund 
c/o City of Charleston 
Post Office Box 304 
Charleston, SC 29402 

2. By stopping by any Wells Fargo Bank nationwide and making a donation to the Fund.

3. Texting 'prayforcharleston' to 843-606-5995 or go to


Lowcountry Ministries – Reverend Pinckney Fund

This Fund will be administered by the Palmetto Project (a South Carolina non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of South Carolians). 100% of the funds donated will be used in this community to support local initiatives serving his home church, vulnerable populations and youth projects that Reverend Pinckney was so passionate about. Decisions on the use of these funds will be made a task force of stakeholders made up of a member or members of Reverend Pinckney’s family, colleagues, representatives from Emanuel AME Church and other members of our community selected for their specific expertise. These donations will be tax deductible. Donations can be made by ….

1. By sending a check to 
Lowcountry Ministries – Reverend Pinckney Fund
c/o The Palmetto Project 
6296 Rivers Avenue #100 
North Charleston, SC 29406 

2. Or by donating online at the following web site -


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