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What Charleston’s New Memorial to Victims of Church Shooting Will Mean for the City

More than four years after the devastating, racially motivated shooting at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel church, the Rev. Eric Manning opens up about the church’s legacy, how the city has changed—and how a new memorial will honor those who died.

On June 17, 2015, during bible study at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (or Mother Emanuel), nine people—pastor Clementa Pinckney as well as congregation members Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, and Myra Thompson—were shot and killed by a 21-year-old, white-supremacist male. One year later, the Reverend Eric Manning became the new pastor of Mother Emanuel, which has tapped the Israeli American architect Michael Arad (of the National September 11 Memorial) to help commemorate the “Emanuel Nine” on its church grounds. Here, Reverend Manning opens up about the community’s recovery, the church’s resilience, and what the coming memorial will bring to the city.

Courtesy of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church Founded in 1816, Charleston’s Mother Emanuel church is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the southern United States.

Courtesy of Handel Architects A rendering of the Survivors’ Garden, looking toward the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church

Well, Mother Emanuel is the oldest African American church below the Mason-Dixon line—just knowing that speaks volumes. It’s a church that has stood in the face of injustice for 201 years, from [cofounder] Denmark Vesey standing up for the rights of blacks within Charleston [before he was executed and the church burned down by a white mob in 1822] through the Civil War and its rebirth as a place where African Americans come together to worship, to be part of a larger community. You think about the legacy of…

Christine Ajudua

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