Charleston Strong to A Community United to One Charleston

Amazing Grace found on the streets of Charleston

Charleston+Strong+to+A+Community+United+to+One+Charleston

Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC right before a thunderstorm.
Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC right before a thunderstorm.

Charleston, SC.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The day we returned from an Athletic/Educational/Social Skills Camp from a nearby college campus for 18 young black men, Charleston was hot.  “Backpack” was there to bring home the “story” in short film and still images.  All were exhausted, but invigorated. A stack of their journals were sitting on the sidewalk.  Their athletic gear was being put away.  When we had departed a few days before, they did not know Backpack or even why we were going.  Upon our return, lots of hugs as they departed for home. Parents came, some walked home.  Never did I think that by the next day, Charleston would become the victim of hate, with the loss of 9 lives.

Back up now to 911.  Then, we were working on a teacher magazine.  The day the towers came down we all left our offices and went home.  America was under attack.  Days and months later, patriotism was not just a word that we were all familiar with, but it went active.  Military retirees rejoined, and new recruits lined up.  We were off to war to get the bad guys.  There was a renewed interest in America, and the land of the free.  At least for a while.  As we all returned to our normal lives, an internet partner to the magazine, commented that what surprised them was how quickly their “boards” went silent.  When asked what that meant, the response was, “perhaps even a few months after 911, we saw a downturn in activity on comments related to 911/patriotism.  We had thought it would last longer”.  We just cataloged that.  Until, a major business magazine invited us in for a conference, whereby they held special sessions for veterans.  Their event planner commented that the reason there was so much emphasis on this new “veteran’s business program” was that after 911, a small part of America went to war to protect our freedoms (5%), and the rest of us went shopping.  She said this with a slight tear in her eye.

America has come a long way from segregation in the 1940’s, to today integration and opportunities for all races, via federal and state legislation and societal support. Educational opportunities are there, and with determination and hard work, anyone can excel.  Our Charleston police department supports our community with multiple programs for youth and families that crosses all race and has no boundaries.

Backpack’s friends from across the nation call and say: Charleston’s 180 churches and their clergy are the foundation for the grace shown during this recent tragedy. Charleston did not have the violence and destruction as many other cities have had following a death tragedy.

Logo developed to support the Unity Walk via the Ravenel Bridge.  The unity walk was the idea of 4 young Moms!
Logo developed to support the Unity Walk via the Ravenel Bridge. The unity walk was the idea of 4 young Moms!

We are Charleston Strong!

Mayor Joe Riley, with this his last term, has shown his leadership and exemplified the reason the people of Charleston elected him to serve Charleston for 39 years. The people of Charleston have joined in prayer at all churches, walked a bridge in unity, placed hundreds of bouquets of flowers and message at Mother Emanuel AME CHURCH and are still searching on ways to help the families of the 9 lost. Our local baseball team, the RiverDogs is wearing black bands,

RiverDogs players wearing black arm bands to honor to Mother Emanuel AME -9  A Baseball tradition
RiverDogs players wearing black arm bands to honor to Mother Emanuel AME -9 A Baseball tradition

A local restaurant, Sticky Fingers redesigned their shirts to include Charleston Strong on the back.

Staff from Sticky Fingers wearing their shirts for the first time!
Staff from Sticky Fingers wearing their shirts for the first time!

 

Trident Construction erected this on the Cigar Factory Building
Trident Construction erected this on the Cigar Factory Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Charleston.  It’s our time to lead the discussion, and it’s not just on issues of racial discrimination.  To study and hopefully understand the reasons behind the HATE that took a young man’s life away early on, and turned him into what is alleged, a killer of 9 people.  Then, to begin to map out solutions to finding LOVE instead of HATE.  We hear the word “mental illness” tossed about.  That too, is a factor and often while these types of horrid events are random. They occur, and cause us to reflect.

To communicate openly.  To help find a path of guidance so that others who follow, will not allow hate to twist the mind and heart.   The solution is not a simple, as mixed in are cultural values and the acceptance of all racial differences, and that’s not just related to skin color.  Clearly the importance of education is at the foundation, and with that, only consistency in the delivery of quality education will come close to solving the economic issues that African Americans face.

church-sign-for-the-web
Sign found on the wall at Mother Emanuel AME, Charleston, SC

Now, the last of the 9 have been buried, and the funerals and the singing is now silent.  The large news trucks and reporters from all over the world have gone home.  The grieving begins in earnest now for the family members of the lost 9, and we, as Charlestonians must push to continue to support them, and begin the conversation.

Hand painted garage door on residence in Charleston
Hand painted garage door on residence in Charleston

Is it as simple as believing in our Christian faith, God and

love too?  After all, what is the color of your heart? 

Linda Dennis, a Backpack Journalist

July 5, 2015

Charleston, SC

Kelly Golden, 94.3 WSC FM provided the inspiration for the collection of images shown with this article.  A complete pictorial essay of “Signs” around Charleston can be found on

facebook.com/backpackjournalist