I finally went to sleep with a face damp from tears, a headache from crying too much, and a heavy heart.
Nine Black people killed at prayer meeting last night at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.
I think about how they likely welcomed the killer into the prayer meeting, even though he was a new face. Probably telling him that they’d pray for him and that if he’s looking for church home, he’d be welcome at Emanuel.
I think about the late nights my mom spent at church when I was growing up, because she was the organist and choir director.
I think about the late nights my dad spent at church, on the men’s ministry and the vestry.
I think about the late nights my grandfather spent at church since he’s a trustee.
I think about the late nights my grandmom spent at church, at prayer meetings.
I think about the youth usher board meetings, youth choir meetings, and more that I attended growing up in church.
I think about the history of the African Methodist Church, founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, who bought his freedom by working odd jobs for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Allen started the AME church, the first independent Black denomination in the country, after rejecting the segregated conditions at St. George’s Methodist Church.
I think about how 2016 will be the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of the African Methodist Episcopal church with celebrations planned at Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, the church Allen founded.
I think about Emanuel AME, which is the oldest Black church south of Baltimore. It is where Denmark Vesey planned a slave revolt and the church was subsequently burned to the ground. The members rebuilt the church and worshiped there, until an 1834 Charleston law banned all Black churches.The members kept the congregation going underground until it was safe(r) at the end of the Civil War.
I think about the September 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL that killed 4 Black girls – Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. Sarah Collins Rudolph was injured in the bombing that killed her sister Addie Mae and something she said in Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls comes to mind:
“For a long time I was real afraid of being on the outside as well as the inside of anywhere.” ~ Sarah Collins Rudolph
I think about how there are no safe spaces from racism in the United States for Black people and my face is still damp with tears, my head still hurts, and my heart is still heavy.