The threat of rain wasn’t enough to keep people from a memorial service for the victims of a June 17th act of racist terrorism that killed nine people while they were attending a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
About 300 people gathered at the Highland Park High School football field at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25, 2015, for the service, which ran about 40 minutes. Each of the nine victims was remembered by name and honored at a gathering led by local officials and spiritual leaders.
“We hurt for the hate expressed in their killing,” said Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler. “If we keep coming together, the better world is within our grasp.”
The memorial service, which included reading of passages of Scripture and a responsive reading excerpted from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, also featured repeated enjoinders not to allow the nation to lose the progress it has made in Civil Rights since the 1960s.
In particular Ashton Burrell, chairman of the Highland Park Human Rights Commission, urged attendees to leave the memorial with a commitment to effect change in the local, state and national community.
“This isn’t doing anything but coming out and sitting and thinking that we’ve done something,” he said. “This isn’t just a black problem. This isn’t just a white problem. This isn’t just a yellow problem. This is an American problem.
“Let’s get to work, Highland Park,” Mr. Burrell concluded to applause. “I think we’re the perfect place to get started and start setting an example.”