1. Rev. Clementa Pinckney. He was the church’s pastor and a state senator representing the 45th District. A married father of two, Pinckney was elected to the state House at age 23, making him the youngest House member at the time.
2. Tywanza Sanders. Sanders was the youngest of the shooting victims. He tried to reason with the shooter, and died trying to protect his 87-year-old aunt Susie Jackson. Sanders graduated from Allen University in Columbia in 2014 with a degree in business administration. He was participating in the Bible Study session at Mother Emanuel church at the time of the shooting.
3. Cynthia Hurd. Hurd was a branch manager at the Charleston County Public Library. She was “a tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth.”
4. Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Coleman-Singleton was a high school track coach, and the mother of a rising sophomore who attends Charleston Southern University. She was also a pastor in the church where she was killed.
5. Myra Thompson. Thompson was the wife of Reverend Anthony Thompson, Vicar of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston.
6. Ethel Lance. At 70 years old, Lance was “the heart of her family” as described by her grandson Jon Quil Lance. She worshipped at her church for 30 years.
7. Rev. Daniel Simmons. Simmons was a ministerial staff member at the church as well.
8. Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor. Middleton-Doctor was a mother of four, and an enrollment counselor at the Charleston campus of Southern Wesleyan University.
9. Susie Jackson. Susie Jackson was a pillar in the church community. The church was her life. She was an integral part of the church’s gospel choir, and was also a cook for the congregation. At 87, she was oldest victim.
The Charleston, SC shooter was 21-year old Dylan Roof. The shooter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, in Newtown, CT was 20-year old Adam Lanza. The shooters of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre were 18-year olds Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.
Following the Newtown CT shootings on December 14, 2012 that took the lives of 20 elementary school children and 6 adults, President Obama shared these words:
“We learn that our most important job is to give children what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation. And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children. This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.”
– President Barack Obama, Newtown, CT, December 16, 2012.
Somehow as a country, we need to do better. What can we do? Well, it starts with us individually. Starting today, we can all commit to living and engaging with greater compassion, patience, tolerance, and appreciation for diversity. Isn’t this the type of world you want to build? The type of world you want for your kids and grandkids? If it is, then it starts with us. We can all do this together. We can.
Sending prayers of peace, strength, faith, love, and compassion to all.
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