Reflections on the Charleston Church Shooting: Remembering Nine Lives Taken | Not in Our Town

Reflections on the Charleston Church Shooting: Remembering Nine Lives Taken

First Row: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders

Second Row: Susan Jackson, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Singleton

Third Row: Rev. Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance


On June 27, 2015, a white supremacist sat in Bible study with a group of congregants at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. At the close of prayer, he pulled out a gun and killed nine beloved people. This horrific, racist crime in a house of worship shook our country and people around the world.  

In the days after violent eruptions of hate, families, survivors, and the communities surrounding them are deeply traumatized and trying to cope with the loss, as national attention puts their grief in the spotlight. At the same time, many in the community are also awakened and ready to connect with each other in ways that can help us examine how to prevent another act of bigotry-fueled violence. 

Not In Our Town traveled to South Carolina to document scenes of mourning, but more urgently to capture the outpouring of support for the congregation among Charleston residents and people who traveled from across the U.S. to share their grief.  

We created a short video about that moment,  but the team captured many more inspiring scenes and reflections that NIOT would like to share. We hope we can share more of this inspiring material and provide an update on what has happened in the coming year. 

The killer was captured days later and brought to trial in federal court for murder and hate crime charges.  He was convicted of the killings and the first perpetrator to be sentenced to death on federal hate crime charges. (we don’t share his name or the names of mass murderers)

More from NIOT on Charleston
Last year, NIOT Leader Pardeep Kaleka shared these reflections on anti-Black hate and his 2015 journey to Charleston in the days after the assault on Mother Emanuel Church.  

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