CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Mother Emanuel AME Church has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its response following the shootings inside the church one year ago Friday.
"The public response was not rage, vengeance or violence, but one of Christian forgiveness, unity and peace," Frank Zuccarelli writes in the nomination packet.
Zuccarelli, the Township Supervisor in South Holland, Illinois, hired Algernon Penn to submit the nomination.
"The process I wanted to take was a different one because we were outsiders from Chicago, and wanted to make sure Zuccarelli was aware the culture is different," Penn said. "We needed to go down there and find out why Emanuel didn't blow up like other places in the country."
He gathered a delegation of elected officials, clergy, and police community activists and came to Charleston to talk to what Penn called stakeholders in the Charleston community. Penn called it a profound and enlightening journey.
"It gave us a clear idea of whether it should be the city of Charleston, or whether the church should be nominated, and overwhelming, it was the church which set the tone," he said.
A church has never been nominated, according to Penn.
"We went to the church to get their blessing, they gave us their blessing, and we went to the work and got criteria of who could make the nomination," Penn
said. "We checked with people around the country to see if they would be willing to put those names in nomination."
Five members of Congress from Chicago, the Congressional Black Caucus, an Illinois State Senator who was a friend and fraternity brother of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney agreed to do it. Penn described it as an awesome experience.
"We got everything in on time and considering a language and time barrier, our submission got in a day ahead of time, and we are kind of hoping that things work out," he said. Penn noted that Emanuel AME has stood the test of time for 200 years, pointing out that the church was targeted by the accused shooter because of its history.
"When the murders happened, everyone said we knew the person who committed those murders was not from Charleston," Penn said.