We've been away. It was hard to leave Charleston in the aftermath of the evil that visited out town. We were here for the first days, but had commitments that drew us out of town, to our home away from home in the mountains of Georgia. As we travelled, we saw how the state, the country , the world, responded to the brutal slaying of those nine beautiful souls at Mother Emanuel. I watched my city from afar, the love I carry for it only growing in the aftermath, love over hate visibly a way of life, a calling.
"We shall overcome", a song I sang in my childhood in the Washington DC area, during the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, was once again on my lips. I thought a lot about the path that movement has taken over the course of my life, and how grateful I was to be a part of a peaceful response to a heinous violence, a crime of racial hatred. This was the path my parents had taught me, the belief with which I was raised. To see it put into action, by thousands of Charlestonians around me, hand in hand, building a bridge to unity; flooding prayer services; standing vigil at Marion Square and Mother Emanuel AME Church; protecting against agitators "from off" bent on stirring violence; coming together to honor the slain, to send them off surrounded by love... it has been truly awe-inspiring. I hope those nine souls know that their deaths have had such a profound impact on so many, that they have set a course for healing a wrong that goes farther back than any of us alive now.
We drove home yesterday, across the state. There were flags lowered to half mast, and signs on churches, storefronts, and Main Streets saying "Pray for Charleston" and "Stand with Charleston". As we got to North Charleston, there were billboards on the highway proclaiming "Charleston Strong", but none was so sweet at the one on my own corner. I am home, where love is stronger than hate.