Happy Friday, y’all …. and especially for the “fathers” who lost their lives in that church in Charleston at the hands of a social misfit … peace be still! On a slightly more positive note before touching briefly on the history of that church in Charleston, SC, I wanted to wish a good friend and writer buddy of mine, Stokely Gittens, a Happy Father’s Day as his second son, Stokely Jr., was born just a few days ago!! Okay, and while I am at it, let me wish all those biological mothers who play that dual role of “mother with father responsibilities” a Happy Day, too!! And last but not least, though it seems that way for some of us … sometimes … Happy Father’s Day to all those genuine “fathers” in whatever shape or form you come in … as long as one is doing her/his best to play that “father role” when respected as such and allowed to do so. That’s a wide range of options, purposely created so I could fit in there … somewhere!
The church where the tragedy occurred in Charleston, SC has a history deeply rooted in the African American’s fight to “become” equal citizens in a country which “they” helped to build. I wasn’t there so I don’t take any credit. Yet, I am proud of my predecessors and ancestors, and admire their fortitude, integrity and pure guts and courage in the face of horrid controversies! The church itself was founded by Morris Brown in 1816. Brown had tried attending the “other” MEC churches run by the whites in South Carolina. He was frustrated from the racism he experienced when he tried to attend services at the white run churches. So, as anyone with tenacity would do, he founded The African Methodist Episcopal Church there in Charleston. The MEC was the model after which, in the late 1790’s, African Americans chose to model their African Methodist Churches after since the earlier MEC’s would not allow Africans to worship either! Imagine, in the name of “God”, discrimination and racism stood firm.
This church in Charleston has come to be known as “The Mother Church” due to its historical relevance and core of what later became known as the Civil Rights Movement. This “church” was the place where after being forced by fearful whites to stop holding services in public and whites who even burned the church to the ground once it was learned that Denmark Vesey had organized an aborted slave revolt there, the congregation continued meeting in “secret”. This Church has been said to be a symbol of “Black Freedom” in this country … In 1909, Booker T. Washington spoke there to an audience of black and whites, much like what occurred yesterday in the aftermath of the shooting of 9 church members during a Bible study on Wednesday night, but for a different reason. In 1962, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke there and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP also spoke there around that time. In 1969, Coretta Scott King led a march from The Mother Church aimed at creating a union for the black hospital workers there in Charleston.
On this Juneteenth 2015, which was first started in Texas on June 19th, 1865 when the “news” that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by Pres. Lincoln, we must lay to rest still another generation of the congregation of Emanuel AME Church there in Charleston, SC. Six women and three men lost their “Earthly” lives to the demonic behaviour of 20 year old Dylann Roof right there in that same church!! Peace be still …. R.I.P. and in loving memory: Pastor and Senator Clementa Pinckey, 41; Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Ethel Lance, 70, who worked for 30 years at the church; Sister Suzie Jackson, 87; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Myra Thomson, 59; and Reverend Daniel Simmons, Jr., 74.
This Sunday, I will be participating in the Brahma Kumaris of Hollywood’s World Peace Meditation at 6PM at ArtsPark in Young Circle here in Hollywood, FL. It is also the International Day of Yoga … and Father’s Day!
Peace be with each of you,
John I. Cook, Director