Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden dedicated

Susie Jackson was the oldest victim of the 2015 church shooting
Published: Jun. 17, 2023 at 5:00 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2023 at 1:49 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The city of Charleston dedicated a garden Saturday morning to one of the nine victims killed in a mass shooting at a downtown church in 2015.

The Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden was dedicated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the eighth anniversary of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church.


Jackson was one of nine killed, including the church’s 41-year-old pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Jackson was a Burke High School graduate, and at age 87 was the oldest victim gunned down at the end of a Wednesday night Bible study on June 17, 2015.

Nine members of Mother Emanuel AME Church were killed in a mass shooting inside the church at...
Nine members of Mother Emanuel AME Church were killed in a mass shooting inside the church at the conclusion of a Wednesday night Bible study on June 17, 2015.(Live 5)

The garden is located next to the Charleston County Public Library at 68 Calhoun Street and runs along Alexander Street, where Jackson lived for more than 50 years.

“It’s an honor that this is here in remembrance, her house literally right down the street,” Tiana Jackson, Susie’s great-granddaughter, says. “Now, we have a place to really just celebrate her and everything that she stood for.”

Visitors can reach the garden by the Pathway for Peace from Calhoun Street.

“It brings a little sadness and brings a little joy, you know, but now we can take this little shortcut from Alexandra Street to Calhoun Street,” Susie’s son, Walter Jackson Sr., says.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, City Council Member Robert Mitchell; Mother Emanuel AME Pastor Rev. Eric Manning; and Polly Sheppard, one of the survivors of the shooting, are all expected to attend, along with members of Jackson’s family.

“On this day that we remember and celebrate, let us remember the memory of the Emanual 9 and the survivors; and do the very best that we can, not only for our communities and families, but for the world,” Manning says.

The garden includes a variety of plant species and trees that will provided color and interest throughout all seasons, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said. Visitors can enjoy a water feature, benches and nine Japanese blueberry trees in honor of the nine victims; five Noisette roses, representing each of the survivors; and four olive trees, symbolizing the four anchors of peace: freedom, forgiveness, faith and family, O’Toole said.

In addition to Jackson and Pinckney, the other seven victims were Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54; Ethel Lance, 70; the Rev. DePayne Middleton, 49; Tywanza Sanders, 26; the Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; the Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.

“May Jesus Christ bless this freedom Memorial Garden and remind all who crossed his path to renounce society’s ills and be free from racism, sexism and economic oppression,” Rev. Catina Jackson, Susie’s granddaughter In-law, says. “May this garden remind us we are free and that love conquers hate.”

The park was made possible through a public and private partnership that included the city of Charleston, Charleston County, Jackson’s family, the Charleston Parks Conservancy and the support of the surrounding neighborhood residents and businesses.


The Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden was officially dedicated Saturday.