CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The presiding elder over Mother Emanuel AME was thankful Wednesday night after a group from Illinois announced plans to start the nomination process for the church and the City of Charleston to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Frank Zuccarelli, President of the Board of Thornton Township in Illinois, said the aftermath of what happened on June 17 deserves to be recognized globally.
He said the community support, and the strength of Mother Emanuel's church members embodies the idea behind the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Charleston stuck out so significantly, so much different from the other places," Zuccarelli said. "We knew there was something special going on here."
The 17-member group from Illinois traveled to Charleston this week as part of their "Faith, Dignity, and Respect Initiative" to learn from the community about healing after a tragedy.
"We found that faith is the core element of the whole dignity and respect aspect, because that's what has kept this community together," Zuccarelli said.
"From my standpoint as a legislator, there was a good, strong leadership by city officials, the police department and the strengths they showed that also made a critical difference," said Senator Donne Trotter (D – District 17, Chicago).
The group announced it would be starting its nomination efforts for Mother Emanuel and the City of Charleston to receive the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
Submissions for the 2016 award will end on February 1, where the Committee will then prepare a short list of candidates.
In October the Nobel Laureates are chosen and announced. December the Laureates will receive the medal and diploma at the ceremony.
Wednesday's announcement was a way for the group to get permission from the church to move forward with that submission.
"We embrace the idea of moving forward with the Nobel Peace Prize, because it's not one that is sought by just a few," said Dr. Reverend Norvel Goff, the presiding elder of Mother Emanuel AME. "It's an acknowledgment that only God could have moved in such a miraculous way to allow us to stand on solid ground."
The group is looking for at least one million signatures on a petition in order to make this Nobel Peace Prize nomination possible.
According to the official Nobel Peace Prize website, a nomination is considered valid if done through someone of the following categories:
- Members of international courts
- University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes
- Person who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
- Board members of organization that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
- Active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; (proposals by members of the Committee to be submitted no later than at the first meeting of the Committee after February 1)
- Former advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Committee
In 2015 there were two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai and India's Kailash Satyarthi.
At 17-years-old, Malala became the youngest recipient ever. She was shot in the head by the Taliban, but continued to push for children's rights and universal education.
Satyarthi received the award for the same issues, risking his life to help protect children.
In 2013, the prize went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
In 2009, President Obama was honored for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between countries.
Other notable winners include Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein.
Also at Wednesday's announcement, a member of another Charleston AME church wants to nominate Reverend Goff for the Presidential and Humanitarian award following the Mother Emanuel Shooting.
She believes he has stood as a leader across Charleston, while also making a huge impact on other AME churches in his delegation.