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Lawmakers request $4 million from state budget for Emanuel 9 Memorial

Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 12:42 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Some state lawmakers have requested $4 million from the South Carolina budget to help construct a memorial in honor of the nine black parishioners killed inside Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Overall, the Emanuel Nine Memorial Foundation is working to raise $17.5 million to design, build, maintain and protect the site. Groundbreaking on the project is expected to happen in fall 2021 and is anticipated to be open by mid-to-late 2022. In the meantime, the foundation’s social justice initiatives will launch later this year.

“This memorial will say that they did not die in vain,” the Rev. Sharon Risher said. “That memorial will be a place of peace and love when you walk upon that sacred ground.”

Risher’s mother, Ethel Lee Lance, was one of nine parishioners murdered on June 17, 2015, by self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof.

“Coming to Charleston now is a very heavy thing for me to do because everywhere I am in Charleston my mother is there,” Risher said. “That memorial will give people from all over an opportunity to come into a sacred space, to be able to know these people spent most of their lives in that church.”

State Reps. JA Moore, Wendell Gilliard, and Leon Stavrinakis have requested $4 million go towards the Mother Emanuel Foundation Capital Infrastructure.

“The memorial will be located on the grounds of Mother Emanuel church and will feature a courtyard with two fellowship benches, facing each other with high backs that arc up and around like sheltering wings. At the center of the courtyard, the curves of the benches encircle a marble fountain where the names of the Emanuel Nine are carved around the fountain’s edge,” a press release about the memorial plans stated. “Water emanates from a cross-shaped source, filling the basin and gently spilling over the names of the nine. The opening between the benches toward the back of the courtyard reveals a cross above a simple altar, providing visitors a quiet place to linger in thought and prayer.”

Plans also call for a survivors’ garden, which will be accessed by a pathway from the courtyard. Dedicated to life and resiliency, the garden will be surrounded by six stone benches and five trees, symbolizing the five survivors – the sixth signifying that the church is also a survivor.

The foundation confirmed Wednesday the city of Charleston donated $2 million to the memorial’s construction.

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