Granddaughter of Emanuel AME victim channels tragedy into support system

Granddaughter of Emanuel AME victim channels tragedy into support system
The Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr. (Source: Family)
The Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr. (Source: Family)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Since the shooting death of her grandfather last year at Mother Emanuel AME Church, Alana Simmons has directed her focus towards supporting other victims of discrimination and hate crimes.

"To us, being able to help someone who's experienced the same thing that we've experienced, whether it was at the same level, or at a smaller level, is what's really been helping me to heal," she said.

Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr. was one of nine people shot at Mother Emanuel AME Church last June.  He survived the ambulance ride to the hospital, where he died.

"He was a very strong man," Simmons said.  "He survived so many things prior to his death, and even in his final moments, he displayed strength."

Simmons' own words became world-famous after she told suspect Dylann Roof that "hate won't win" during a court hearing two days after the shooting.

"Before we got out of the courtroom, it was a worldwide trending hashtag, so I decided to use that hashtag to create a social media challenge," she said.

The Hate Won't Win Movement encourages people to do acts of kindness for one another.  It is also a non-profit to support survivors of hate crimes, discrimination and bullying.

Simmons said it would be a conflict of interest for her to hate Roof, and that she is "closer" to forgiveness.

"For me, it's a process: forgiveness, healing and even moving on," she said. "But I will say that I do not hate the individual and there is no anger coming from my direction. Because I'm out, really trying to spread good news and if I'm doing that, I can't harbor hate at the same time."

Simmons credits the community for supporting the victims' families over the past year, through memorials and vigils.

"Personally, I would like to say that the outpour of love from the community, as well as my faith, as well as my family and friends have really been a source of strength for me," she said.

More information on the Hate Won't Win Movement can be found at hatewontwinmovement.com.

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