When a gunman opened fire on Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church Wednesday, spraying bullets into a group of worshippers gathered for a mid-week prayer meeting, it was as though history repeated itself.
This historic congregation, the oldest of its kind in the South, had already seen more than its fair share of tumult and hate. It was founded by worshipers fleeing racism and burned to the ground for its connection with a thwarted slave revolt. For years its meetings were conducted in secret to evade laws that banned all-black services. It was jolted by an earthquake in 1886. Civil rights luminaries spoke from its pulpit and lead marches from its steps. For nearly two hundred years it had been the site of struggle, resistance and change.
More: ‘Tell the world what happened’: White gunman who shot dead NINE people in mass ‘race-hate’ shooting at historic black church in South Carolina SPARED one woman to spread news of massacre