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Response to Terrorist Massacre in Charleston Church

from the NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement

The NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement have issued the following statement in response to last night's terrorist massacre at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston:

In response to the act of racial terror last night at the historic Emanuel AME Church--a beacon of light and a force for liberation and justice for nine score years in our nation's history-- the NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement call on all North Carolinians to action in prayer and fasting beginning today. 

We call on people of conscience and of all faiths to pray for justice and love and against the demonizing forces of racism.

We extend our prayers to Emanuel AME Church, to the families of those who were shot and killed.

We ask for prayers of faith for all people to not only challenge overt expressions and actions of racism, but to challenge, as this church has done throughout its history, policies that have a disparate impact on African Americans and other minorities like the denial of Medicaid expansion, voter suppression, cutting funding of public education, denying living wages and labor rights. All of these are issues that Emanuel AME's late minister, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, cared about.

Let us join Rev. Pinckney's family and the millions who have been traumatized by this gun violence in reminding ourselves to hate the evil, but to somehow find the grace to forgive the perpetrator, while never relinquishing our commitment to the cause of justice. We know that hate cannot drive out hate; evil cannot drive out evil; and violence cannot drive out violence. Only love and justice can overcome them.

Emmanuel AME Church's congregation was formed in 1791 by free and enslaved African Americans.  Denmark Vesey, one of the founders of the congregation, orchestrated a slave rebellion uncovered in 1822.  Thirty-five slaves were executed and white mobs burned the church in retaliation for the revolt plot. The congregation rebuilt the church and met until 1834, when the state legislature of South Carolina banned black churches. They met secretly until Emancipation in 1865. That a congregation so rooted in the battle against white supremacy should suffer such violence at the hands of a twisted white supremacist is a bitter irony, but we must rededicate ourselves, black and white, to the battle against white supremacy.

In the aftermath of the Birmingham bombing in 1963, civil rights and justice communities took not a single step backwards. People of all races stepped forward together. Let us do so again. Let us honor the deaths of these wonderful human beings. Let us continue their quest for righteousness and justice and equality. Not just with cute platitudes and post-mortem words, but with courageous actions and deeds.

-- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, NC NAACP and Architect, Forward Together Moral Movement
-- Rev. Michelle Laws, Executive Director, NC NAACP
-- Ms. Carolyn Q. Coleman, 1st Vice President, NC NAACP
-- Ms. Carolyn McDougal, 2nd Vice President, NC NAACP
-- Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, 3rd Vice President, NC NAACP
-- Mr. Courtney Patterson, 4th Vice President, NC NAACP
-- Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood, HKonJ Coalition Coordinator

The 9 who were killed have been identified. They are:
Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Sharonda Singleton
Myra Thompson
Tywanza Sanders
Ethel Lee Lance
Cynthia Hurd
Rev. Daniel L. Simmons
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Susie Jackson

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