COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -Nearly four years since the shooting massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, Tuesday, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission will hold a remembrance ceremony in Columbia. It’s an annual event to honor the victims.
The commission chooses to hold the event the first week in June, so as to not interfere with any events happening in Charleston near the official anniversary, June 17. It also gives people in the Midlands the opportunity to honor the lives lost.
It was June 17, 2015 when nine people were killed and several other injured after a lone gunman entered the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and opened fire during bible study.
This is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South, and considered a rock in the Charleston community for its work against discrimination.
Leaders with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission say it’s important that we never forget the story of the Mother Emanuel Nine. The commission is now taking steps to improve race relations in South Carolina by holding panel discussions throughout the state, called “No Blame, No Shame: A Conversation about Race,” encouraging people to get to know their neighbors and be more open-minded when it comes to everyone’s differences.
Anita Dantzler is community relations and outreach director with the SC Human Affairs Commission.
“We want people to know that we are about fostering good will and harmony in the state. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission handles complaints of discrimination in employment and housing and we want to encourage people to contact us if anything like that occurs in their lives,”said Dantzler.
Not long after the 2015 shooting, the South Carolina General Assembly declared June 17 as Mother Emanuel Nine Day – a concurrent resolution encouraging all state agencies to recognize the work being done to improve race relations, and economic equality for minorities in the Palmetto State.
This year the commission is adding something new to their remembrance ceremony – a presentation of the Emanuel Lives Award, which will be presented to the organization or individual demonstrating exceptional efforts to unify the community.
“During this incident, the shooter wanted to begin a race war, and so we want everyone to know that Emanuel Lives. That we are not going to go towards the hate in the spectrum. We’re going towards love in the spectrum,”said Dantzler.
The commission is planning to give out this award every year moving forward.
This year’s winner of the Emanuel Lives Award will be presented during Tuesday’s ceremony which starts at 11 a.m. in the Chappelle Auditorium of Allen University.