By Keisha N. Blain
On June 17, 2015, a white supremacist walked into a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina. That evening, a small group of black men and women had gathered at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church for bible study—unaware of the sinister motives of the new visitor in their midst. After an hour of discussion and prayer, then 21-year-old Dylann Roof stood up and calmly announced, “I’m here to kill black people,” before opening fire on the unsuspecting group of parishioners.
Within minutes, Roof took the lives of nine black men and women: Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, and Myra Thompson. He forever shattered the lives of countless more. The massacre would go down in history as one of the most horrific acts of racial violence in recent memory.
Immediately after the shooting in June 2015, I collaborated with fellow historians Chad Williams and Kidada Williams to launch the #CharlestonSyllabus, a Twitter movement and crowdsourced list of reading recommendations on the history of racial violence in the United States. With the public reading list we created and the subsequent book, we hoped to do more than simply provide an opening for yet another national conversation on race. Instead, we wanted to offer valuable resources that would provide the necessary historical context for understanding the massacre—a context that was clearly missing from public discourse surrounding the shooting.
The Charleston massacre opened the eyes of many Americans to the persistence of racial violence in this country and many vowed to work toward its end. Yet, as we approach the two-year anniversary of the Charleston massacre, racial violence continues to plague our society. In the two years since the massacre, we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in racist acts of violence across the country.
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Source: The Huffington Post