Charleston Church Shooting Victims to be Honored in New Memorial

The nine Black churchgoers who were gunned down by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C., will be honored by a new memorial on the church grounds.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church announced the plans for the memorial on the two-year anniversary of the tragedy.

Michael Arad, partner at Handel Architects of New York, N.Y., will design the memorial. Arad, a native of Israel, also designed the National September 11 Memorial in New York City.

The memorial “will help keep the memory of the Emanuel 9 alive and honor the resilience of the families, survivors and church members,” said Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, the church’s pastor.

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof entered the church during a Bible study, which parishioners welcomed Roof to join. Roof sat with the group for about an hour before opening fire. Eight of the victims died at the church, and one died on the way to the hospital.

One of the victims was State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also the pastor of church. Pinckney, who took office in 1996, was the youngest Black person in South Carolina’s history to be elected to the state legislature. He was then elected to the State Senate in 2000.

In December Roof, now 23, was found guilty on all 33 counts of federal hate crimes. Twelve jurors deliberated for less than two hours. One month later, the same jury sentenced Roof to death, deliberating for less than three hours.

According to the church’s announcement The Beach Company, a family-owned company in Charleston, collaborated with Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr., presiding elder of the Edisto District of the AME Church, in July 2015 to discuss plans for a memorial.

“Michael Arad’s design for the September 11 Memorial expresses both the devastating loss of life, while also expressing peace, comfort and hope,” said Rev. Manning. “His ability to symbolize these conflicting feelings to create a very moving memorial was a compelling qualification for the task of the Emanuel AME Memorial. It is our hope that his work on our memorial will evoke the weight of the tragedy as well as send an inspiring mandate for positive change to the world.”

“I will do my utmost to honor the memory of the deceased and give voice to the injured, the grieving families, and the community,” Arad said in a statement, according to NBC News. “I look forward to engaging in a collaborative design process with hope and humility.”

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