“When twenty-one year old Dylann Roof opened fire at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night killing nine worshippers, including its pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, he struck at the very heart of black America.” Manisha Sinha is right, but if it is blow at the “heart of black America,” it is also a blow to the entire nation. It is a reminder of a shameful past, a past that some don’t want to face. But we must if we are to ever to heal as a nation. It is a reminder that we all have a responsibility to call out the lies and prejudices that fuel all kinds of hatred.
And as Rev. Dr. Carolyn McKinstry, a survivor of the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, implores: “Each of us is accountable for ourselves. Each of us must examine our lives and our treatment of others if we are going to have even a remote chance of living with the tremendous diversity that exists in our country. We still have not learned the simple principle of living next door to someone who may be different from us. We have not learned to treat others in the same manner that we ourselves want to be treated. We can begin changing America now, and continue one day at a time, if we have the will.” (Time magazine)