You came to Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. You didn’t come to take in the beauty of The Battery, or to take a stroll on Market or Meeting Streets. You brought a gun into Emanuel AME Church, and the hate that swells in your heart translated into your mission to kill nine innocent men and women. They welcomed you with open arms into their Wednesday night Bible study that summer evening. You didn't care about their kindness. You chose to target one of the most prominent AME churches in the United States in an attempt to spark racial violence.
The people of the Holy City did not want your hate. We did not wish to be consumed by the grim outlook on the world that fills your being. You picked us to fight your race war and tried to make us hate one another. Our community is filled with friends, strangers, and neighbors who came together instantly in the aftermath of the tragedy. Charlestonians continue to focus on love and unity to this day.
You were recently found guilty of all 33 counts that were brought against you. You had no emotion while the verdict was read, just as you showed no remorse when apprehended. You are still consumed with hatred. In the upcoming months it will be decided whether or not you will receive the death penalty.
But truthfully this article is not about you. This is about all the love that Charlestonians found in their hearts because of you. Whether you spend your life in jail, or awaiting the death penalty, you cannot take away our love or forgiveness. The heartbeat of Charleston will not subside, for we showed the world how to combat hate with love.You did not win. You will never win because Charleston's heart is so big that you had already been forgiven long ago.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." – Martin Luther King Jr.