One year after shooting, family of Graham Hurd sustains her memory

VIDEO: One year after shooting, family of Graham Hurd sustains her memory

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Between aisles of books is where Cynthia Graham Hurd, one of nine people killed inside Mother Emanuel AME Church last June, felt most at home, according to her brothers.

"The library was her safe haven where she felt the most comfortable, surrounded by books," Graham Hurd's brother, Malcolm Graham, said.

Malcolm Graham along with Graham Hurd's other brothers, Melvin, Robert and Gilbert, announced the formation of the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Literacy and Civic Engagement last month. Its first initiative is a month-long book drive, meant to spark a zeal for reading in young people - just like the long-time librarian's passion.

"I think that the things we're doing now are the things that Cynthia would like would make her happy, and people will think about Cynthia and have a smile on their face," Melvin Graham said.

The past year has been a trying time for the close-knit family.  Robert Moultrie, the eldest brother, said he still harbors guilt because he could not protect his sister.

"I try to imagine, what were they thinking?" He said. "I feel guilty; I should've been there."

Moultrie said it is a surreal experience to visit the gravesite of his sister, who was killed at the age of 53.

"We'll go put flowers on our parents' grave, now we'll go put on our sister's," he said.

The brothers rely on their faith in their journey of forgiveness.

"Personally myself, I cannot forgive," Moultrie said. "If she was sick, or got knocked by a car - yeah. But she was taken away from us."

Malcolm Graham said it would've been too simplistic of a response if he were to forgive the suspect, Dylann Roof, in court two days following the shooting.  Several other victims' family members expressed their forgiveness at that particular court hearing.

"It doesn't mean that I have hatred in my heart, or I'm hardened, it just means I clearly understand what happened that night," he said, calling the attack calculated and cold-blooded. "He sat with them for an hour. He indicated that he liked them, but yet he killed them."

Graham Hurd's influence can still be seen and felt one year later, including at the two Charleston County Public Library branches she managed during her 31-year career.

The John L. Dart Library recently unveiled a mural on the side of the building honoring her, and a West Ashley branch will soon be renamed the Cynthia Graham Hurd /St. Andrew's Regional Library.

Those tangible dedications allow the community to mourn with the family.

Melvin Graham likens the healing process to a quote by Vice President Joe Biden.

"He said, 'You know you're done grieving when you think about your loved one and a smile comes across your face, and not a tear to your eye.'  I'm looking forward to that day," he said.

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