Street, garden named to honor 87-year-old church shooting victim

Published: Jun. 18, 2019 at 8:00 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - On Tuesday morning, dozens of Susie Jackson’s family and friends gathered at the intersection of Chapel and Alexander Streets in downtown Charleston.

Two burlap bags hung on the street signs and a Charleston Police Officer car blocked the road so people could stand in the street and look up.

Jackson was one of nine people killed in the 2015 Emanuel AME Church shooting. On Tuesday, the street where she lived for about 50 years was renamed in her honor.

“I flew in from New Jersey," her grandson, Walter B. Jackson, said as he spoke to the crowd. “When I flew in, it was raining. And now, I don’t see the rain. So it’s definitely a good morning.”

A few minutes later, Susie’s son climbed a ladder, revealing “Susie Jackson Way.” The crowd cheered and the family took pictures. The large group then walked a few blocks up to the future site of the Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden.

“We pray now God, that as we stand on this sacred soil that you God would set it apart for your glory and honor,” Pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church, Eric Manning, said. “So that those that may step on this place may be able to understand and remember the legacy of Susie Jackson. But not only that, but the legacy that continues to live in each and every one of us.”

The plans for the garden are not set in stone and the City of Charleston plans to work with Jackson’s family to choose the design.

“This garden is a memorial garden that’s going to memorialize her and have peace," city council member, Robert Mitchell, said. “This is going to be a peace garden where people can sit down and reminisce, read your bible and look at the flowers. That’s what she loved.”

The site will highlight an area formerly referred to as Cedar Court, a shortcut Jackson took to get to Buist Elementary School and Mother Emanuel AME Church. It will also create a public green space for neighborhood residents and library customers while honoring Jackson’s love for gardening.

The park will be paid for by fundraising efforts led by the Jackson family, the Charleston Parks Conservancy, the Mazyck-Wraggborough Neighborhood Association and others. A GoFundMe will be created to help the group raise about half a million dollars.

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