Park honoring eldest Charleston church shooting victim opens
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The memorial park designed to pay tribute to the oldest of nine parishioners of Mother Emanuel AME Church killed in 2015 will open seven years after the shootings.
The Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden will formally open to the public on Friday.
Jackson was 87 when she and eight others were fatally shot at the church at the end of a Wednesday night Bible study.
The garden is located behind the Charleston County Public Library at 68 Calhoun Street and runs along Alexander Street, where Jackson lived for more than 50 years, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said.
The public can access the park by a path from Calhoun Street.
Jackson was an active member of Mother Emanuel AME Church.
“Known for her love of family and kindness to others, Ms. Jackson is formally remembered every June 18, which the city has declared Susie Jackson Day,” O’Toole said.
City leaders say the memorial features a variety of plant species and trees that will provide color and interest throughout all seasons. It will include a water feature and nine Japanese blueberry trees, in honor of the nine lives lost during the tragedy, as well as five Noisette roses, representing each of the survivors.
Benches and additional plantings will be installed later this month, O’Toole said.
The park was funded through a public and private partnership that included the city of Charleston, Charleston County, Charleston Parks Conservancy and the support of the surrounding neighborhood residents and businesses.
A formal dedication and plaque installation ceremony will be scheduled after the benches and final plantings are in place.
In 2019, at the intersection of Chapel and Alexander Streets, city leaders held a ceremony to rename a portion of Alexander Street as Susie Jackson Way in her honor.
The church’s pastor, State Sen. and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, was also shot and killed in the massacre. The other seven victims were Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54; Ethel Lance, 70; the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Tywanza Sanders, 26; the Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; the Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.
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