This Day in History

June 17, 2015: Charleston Church Massacre

Time Periods: 2001 - Present
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity

On June 17, 2015, nine African American churchgoers were gunned down inside Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in an act of white supremacist terrorism. The nine people murdered were:

  • Clementa C. Pinckney (41)
  • Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54)
  • Susie Jackson (87)
  • Ethel Lee Lance (70)
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49)
  • Tywanza Sanders (26)
  • Daniel L. Simmons (74)
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45)
  • Myra Thompson (59)

We recommend two articles for this day by Rev. William J. Barber, II, “The True Charleston Killer Remains at Large: Racism, poverty and violence are the real killers in America” and the sermon Barber gave in January of 2016 at Riverside Church (with references to the massacre in San Bernadino). Barber talks about the moral compass needed to guide the U.S. forward on a path of justice in “The Misdiagnosis of Terrorism.”

Emanuel Nine. Artwork by Panhandle Slim. Click image for more info and see artist’s FB page.

This is one of countless massacres in U.S. history. Most of these massacres were designed to suppress voting rights, land ownership, economic advancement, education, freedom of the press, religion, LGBTQ rights, and/or labor rights of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, and immigrants.

Massacres in US History | Zinn Education Project

Find related resources below, including the statement by Bree Newsome who ten days later removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house. Newsome said,

I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against Black people globally in 2015, including the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic. I did it in solidarity with the South African students who toppled a statue of the white supremacist, colonialist Cecil Rhodes. I did it for all the fierce Black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little Black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free. Continue reading.