June 17 marked the second anniversary of the Charleston Church massacre, in which a white supremacist gunned down nine African-American worshippers.
To honor their memories, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church announced a plan on Sunday to create a permanent memorial at the church.
“This memorial on the grounds of the church will help keep the memory of the Emanuel 9 alive and honor the resilience of the families, survivors and church members,” the Reverend Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of Mother Emanuel, said in a statement.
The vision for a memorial began a month after the tragedy when The Beach Company, a Charleston real estate firm, contacted the presiding elder of the Edisto District of the AME Church, the Rev. Norvell Goff Sr.
John Darby, CEO of the company, said the victims will always be remembered. He added that their families and church leaders responded to hatred with faith and love, which has “materially changed the conversation about racism.”
Architect Michael Arad, who designed the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan, will create the memorial.
Manning said Arad has shown his ability to express the loss of life, while simultaneously expressing peace, comfort and hope.
“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,” the pastor stated. “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.”
Contributions toward the $1,000,000 goal for the project can be made online at The Matching Fund.