A group of anonymous donors has endowed a scholarship fund to honor the late Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney. Rev. Pinckney, who was a member of the state Senate in South Carolina, was murdered at the Mother A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, along with eight other parishioners.
The $3.2 million fund will be administered by the Coastal Community Foundationin Charleston. Proceeds from the endowment will fund scholarships for African American college students. The Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program will award scholarships for students in need and provide them with other support services.
Scholarships will range from between $5,000 and $10,000 and will be renewable for up to four years. Preferences will be given to students of substantial financial need, high academic achievers, and those with leadership qualities. Immediate family members of the victims of the massacre at the Mother A.M.E. Church will also be given preference.
The man accused of killing nine Black parishioners at the historic Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C. was indicted on federal hate crime charges Wednesday, the New York Times reports.
Dylann Roof, 21, was also indicted on other charges, including killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, a charge eligible for the death penalty.
Roof, who admitted to police he killed the nine people attending a prayer meeting because they were Black, was already facing nine counts of murder in state court, but the Justice Department said “the shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it,” the Times writes. In fact, as pointed out by Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday, South Carolina does not have hate crime laws, backing the reasoning for federal charges.
A grand jury was expected to return a federal indictment on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear how that indictment would affect the state prosecution. The Justice Department has the option to delay its case and wait to see how the state case ends before deciding whether to proceed with a second trial. Under federal law, a hate crime does not, by itself, carry a possible death sentence.
Authorities have linked Mr. Roof to a racist Internet manifesto and said he was in contact with white supremacist groups before his attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He was photographed holding a Confederate flag and a handgun.
“I have no choice,” the manifesto reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
In all, Roof was indicted by a grand jury on 33 federal counts. His tentative trial is set for July 11, 2016.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a historic bill Thursday that will remove the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol grounds, where it has been a source of friction for more than half a century.
Haley’s signature ends the fighting over the flag, seen as an emblem of Southern heritage by some but condemned as a symbol of racial oppression by others.
The flag flew over the dome of South Carolina’s Capitol in 1961 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the war — and stayed as a protest to the civil rights movement that shattered Jim Crow segregationist laws across the South. After protests from civil rights leaders, the battle flag was moved in 2000 from the dome to its current location on the Capitol’s front lawn.
Haley said the flag will “come down with dignity” at 10 a.m. Eastern time Friday. The banner will be taken to the state’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum for display.
“The Confederate flag is coming off the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse,” Haley told the overflow crowd. “We will bring it down with dignity and we will make sure it is stored in its rightful place.”
Haley had called for removal of the flag in the wake of the June 17 massacre of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston. A white man, Dylann Roof, who had apparently espoused racist ideologies and who had been photographed with Confederate symbols, is being held on nine murder counts and other charges.
Relatives of those slain at the church were among those in the racially diverse crowd who watched the governor use several pens to sign the legislation, whose passage was all but impossible before the church shootings. The governor praised the dead for changing the debate about the flag and race relations. “These nine pens are going to the families of the Emanuel Nine,” Haley said after signing the bill into law. “Nine amazing individuals who have forever changed South Carolina history.
In a 37-3 vote, the South Carolina Senate decided to remove the Confederate flag from State House grounds. But the physical act of removing the flag may take some time, NBC notes.
The movement to take down the flag has two more hurdles: The bill needs to pass with a two-thirds vote in the South Carolina House, which is likely to be a tougher struggle than in the Senate. Several powerful House Republicans, including Speaker Jay Lucas, have not yet said how they’ll vote. If the bill passes the house, it would head to the desk of Gov. Nikki Haley, who has said the flag’s removal would be a way to honor the nine black victims gunned down by a white gunman at a Charleston church.
This is a developing story…
Weeks after a gunman shot nine people in a racially fueled attack on Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME church, South Carolina lawmakers are set to debate whether to remove the Confederate battle flag from State House grounds, or leave it flying high.
In a weekend interview with NBC’s Today Show, Haley said the removal would be an action of respect.
“You always want to think that today is better than yesterday — that we’re growing as a state, we’re growing as a country. When something like this happens, you reflect, and you say: Have we changed enough?” she said.
“I don’t think this is going to be easy. I don’t think that it’s going to be painless, but I do think that it will be respectful, and that it will move swiftly.”
According to the New York Times, the State Senate, composed of other elected officials who stand with Haley, will consider a bipartisan proposal to remove the flag.
If the Senate approves the measure, the debate will shift to the House; Republicans control both chambers. A survey of lawmakers by The Associated Press, the South Carolina Press Association, and The Post and Courier, a newspaper in Charleston, found last month that there was most likely enough support in the legislature to approve the plan.
There are, however, dissenters, the Times points out.
“This flag is a part of our heritage, so the people of this state should have the final say,” Mr. Bright, a Republican of Spartanburg County, told supporters on Facebook on Wednesday. Mr. Bright, who sought the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat last year, is also offering bumper stickers featuring the Confederate emblem and the message “Keep your hands off my flag” in exchange for campaign contributions.
A recent CNN poll echoes Bright’s sentiments — at least 57 percent of Americans see the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, not racism. But the flag, which flew high during a war fought to defend and justify slavery, dredges up the painful and horrific past of African-Americans in this country. On June 27, community organizer, activist, singer and North Carolina native Brittany “Bree” Newsome was arrested after she took it upon herself to scale the pole and remove the flag from State House grounds herself.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Earlier this week, social justice activist and blogger Shaun King offered a “bounty” on the flag and offered to pay any necessary bail bond fees. Newsome declined the cash reward, asking that all proceeds go to funds supporting victims of the Charleston church massacre. Social media users raised more than $75,000 to fund legal expenses. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a renowned defense attorney, has agreed to represent Newsome and Tyson as they face criminal charges.
I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising.
Not long ago, I had watched the beginning of Selma, the reenactment of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and had shuddered at the horrors of history.
But this was neither a scene from a movie nor was it the past. A white man had just entered a black church and massacred people as they prayed. He had assassinated a civil rights leader. This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting.
This was now.
This was real.
This was—this is—still happening.
I began my activism by participating in the Moral Monday movement, fighting to restore voting rights in North Carolina after the Supreme Court struck down key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
I traveled down to Florida where the Dream Defenders were demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, who reminded me of a modern-day Emmett Till.
I marched with the Ohio Students Association as they demanded justice for victims of police brutality.
I watched in horror as black Americans were tear-gassed in their own neighborhoods in Ferguson, MO. “Reminds me of the Klan,” my grandmother said as we watched the news together. As a young black girl in South Carolina, she had witnessed the Klan drag her neighbor from his house and brutally beat him because he was a black physician who had treated a white woman.
I visited with black residents of West Baltimore, MD who, under curfew, had to present work papers to police to enter and exit their own neighborhood. “These are my freedom papers to show the slave catchers,” my friend said with a wry smile.
And now, in the past 6 days, I’ve seen arson attacks against 5 black churches in the South, including in Charlotte, NC where I organize alongside other community members striving to create greater self-sufficiency and political empowerment in low-income neighborhoods.
Renaming the Charleston library she served for 30 years is a fitting tribute to Cynthia Hurd, one of the nine churchgoers killed during the Emanuel AME Church shooting last week.
The Charleston County Council unanimously voted on Thursday to rename the St. Andrews Regional Library the Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Regional Library, The Post & Courierreports.Hurd worked in the city’s library system from 1990 to 2011, before being given the managerial title at the St. Andrews Regional Library. Her husband Arthur called the commemorative title fitting for the woman who dedicated her life to books and helping others.
“People will look up and see her name and remember her every day,” Arthur Hurd said. “There have been nothing but good things said about her because that’s how she lived her life.”
Hurd was the longest-serving part-time librarian in the county. In a 2003 interview, she said the best thing about being a librarian was the chance to serve others. “I like helping people find answers,” she said. “Your whole reason for being there is to help people.”
Shortly after suspected gunman Dylann Roof took the lives of Hurd and eight others in Mother AME Emanuel Church last week, friends and former classmates from her alma mater,Clark Atlanta University, paid their respects with a candlelight vigil.
The College of Charleston also showed their gratitude to Hurd by renaming their academic scholarship the Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Scholarship. Formally known as the Colonial Scholarship, 12 full academic scholarships are handed out every year to in-state students.
The county also has set up a fund in her honor to continue her work. Those donations may be sent to Charleston County Public Library, c/o Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Fund, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29401.
President Barack Obama continues to lead this country with class and heart, delivering a touching and emotional eulogy for state Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney, an unfortunate victim in the tragic shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week. Obama spoke eloquently of the good works and commitment to community Pinckney had, and solemnly acknowledged by name each of the church members who lost their lives with Pinckney. He then proceeded to talk about the history of the black church and the power of grace.
To the families of the fallen, the nation shares in your grief. Our pain cuts that much deeper because it happened in a church. The church is and always has been the center of African American life… a place to call our own in a too-often hostile world, a sanctuary from so many hardships.
Over the course of centuries, black churches served as hush harbors, where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses, where their free descendants could gather and shout “Hallelujah…” … rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the civil-rights movement.
They have been and continue to community centers, where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harms way and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter. That’s what happens in church. That’s what the black church means — our beating heart, the place where our dignity as a people in inviolate.
There’s no better example of this tradition than Mother Emanuel, a church… built by blacks seeking liberty, burned to the ground because its founders sought to end slavery only to rise up again, a phoenix from these ashes.
Obama goes on to address the Confederate flag as a symbol of systemic oppression and racial subjugation, and calls getting rid of it as “one step in an honest accounting of America’s history. A modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.” To read a transcript of his incredible eulogy, which also forcefully addresses mass incarceration, police brutality, voting rights, gun violence and systemic racial bias, click here. To see it in full, watch below:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Wednesday he plans to hold a Millions for Justice March in the nation’s capital this fall, 20 years after the Million Man March.
During a speech at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Washington, Farrakhan said he intends to hold the rally Oct. 10 on the National Mall, scene of the 1995 march.
“This is the time our people must see our unity,” Farrakhan said. “Let’s make 10/10/15 a meeting place for those who want justice, for those who know what justice is.”
Organizers said they aim to stage a more diverse and inclusive event than the one in 1995, which was billed as a men-only event.
Former NAACP executive director Benjamin Chavis, who helped organize the original Million Man March, said he is optimistic that this year’s turnout will be “in excess of a million.” He said the event’s success would be measured more by the political and socioeconomical impact it has on communities.
“What ultimately will be a success is seeing improvements in the communities where these people are going to come from,” Chavis said. “We want to make sure our public policy demands are aligned with those challenges.”
Farrakhan said the rally is intended to galvanize a more strategic movement for equality as supporters unite under the social media hashtag #JusticeOrElse.
“Walk with the young people, the warriors of God, as we say to America, ‘You owe us,'” Farrakhan said.
The Million Man March was held in Washington on Oct. 16, 1995. Its goal, organizers said, was to encourage black men to make firmer commitments to family values and community uplift. It is among the largest political gatherings in American history, although there were disputes over the size of the heavily black and male crowd it drew. Crowd estimates ranged from 400,000 to nearly 1.1 million.
Farrakhan, 82, also used the march announcement to call for fair treatment and an end to injustice in the wake of the massacre of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week. “Yes, all lives matter, but the only reason you’re here is because black lives are being slaughtered,” Farrakhan said.
As for efforts to remove the Confederate flag in the wake of that tragedy, Farrakhan said the gesture does little to remove the stain of injustice.
“The media is (still) twisting the narrative of murderers,” Farrakhan added, referring to perceptions that the media tends to portray white perpetrators more humanely than those of other races or ethnicities.
MERY, Ala. — With no fanfare, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the removal of four Confederate flags from a memorial at the Alabama State Capitol on Wednesday amid a growing controversy over their official display in the wake of the killing of African Americans at a South Carolina church.
The first to be taken down was the so-called battle flag, followed by the First National Confederate flag, known as the “Stars and Bars,” the Second National Confederate Flag and the Third National Confederate Flag. All four had been removed by 10 a.m.
“The governor does not want the flag to be a distraction,” said Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman for Bentley. “There are a lot of other things we are focused on. We have a tremendous budget issue.”
Five workers, including two wearing yellow “landscape operations” tee-shirts, unceremoniously removed the flags by first lowering separate flag poles, then unsnapping and folding up the individual banners. As a handful of photographers recorded the scene, the men worked quickly, without comment, then left the enclosed area around the monument, locking the gate to the small fence behind them.
The flags were hung at the Alabama Confederate Memorial in 1994, a year after then-Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., ordered the removal of a battle flag that had flown over the state Capitol since 1963.
Meanwhile, Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi’s Republican senator, said Wednesday that it is his “personal hope” that the state would consider changing its flag, which depicts the Confederate battle flag in its upper left corner.
“The recent debate on the symbolism of our flag, which belongs to all of us, presents the people of our state a opportunity to consider a new banner that represents Mississippi,” he said in a statement. He added that he agrees with his fellow senator from Mississippi, Roger Wicker, also a Republican, that “we should look for unity and not divisiveness in the symbols of our state.
Walmart said in a statement Monday that it is removing “all items” promoting the Confederate flag for sale from its stores and its website. The move came the same day that Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina called for the removal of a Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds in Columbia. Her announcement in turn came in the wake of last week’s shooting at a historically black Charleston church that left nine dead.
Charged in the killing is Dylann Roof, 21, who is white and has been attributed with making white supremacist statements. He has been pictured with images of a Confederate flag.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” Walmart spokesman Brian Nick said in an emailed statement. “We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site.”
The statement continued, apparently answering an inquiry from CNN that cited items for sale based on Confederate flag imagery that were available on Walmart.com. A story on CNN’s website said the Walmart statement was in response to a network inquiry about sales of Confederate flag-related items.
“We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances,” Nick said.
Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, with nearly 11,000 stores in 28 countries.