Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Massacre is One of Many
by Kai EL Zabar
Last Wednesday, June 19 , 2015, nine innocent people were murdered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina while worshipping only to conjure the pain of a violent history of attacks on Black Churches where Blacks are most vulnerable. The very idea speaks to a complete and total disrespect and disregard of God and the church. These people who do this obviously are sociopaths of some sort and yet they have been allowed to go about their lives virtually unnoticed until after their behavior escalates ruins lives.
It brings to mind the old gospel song, “I shall not be moved . . .” Blacks have continued to endure the racist attacks, discrimination and disparity in opportunity in America and yet we push forward and onward.
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal is amongst a long list of attacks targeting Black Churches in the United States. A number of them involved the burning of the Churches by the Ku Klux Klan.
On November 5, 2008 Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Mass., which was under construction, was set on fire shortly after the election of President Obama. Of the three white men charged, two pleaded guilty and a third was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
On January 8, 1996 in Knoxville, Tennessee Inner City Baptist Church’s sanctuary was destroyed and racial slurs were painted on the walls. Molotov cocktails, cans of kerosene and gunpowder were discovered in the rubble.
February 1, 1996 in Louisiana, four Churches within a six-mile radius — Cypress Grove Baptist, St. Paul’s Free Baptist and Thomas Chapel Benevolent Society in East Baton Rouge as well as Sweet Home Baptist in Baker — were set on fire on the anniversary of the sit-in in Greensboro, N.C.
On June 21, 1995 in Manning, S.C., the Macedonia Baptist Church was set on fire by four former members of the Ku Klux Klan. The fire was one of dozens at predominantly black churches across the South that were investigated as arson. A fire was set the day before at the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in Greeleyville. Macedonia Baptist was awarded $37.8 million in a decision against the Klan. A jury believed the Klan’s rhetoric motivated the men to set the fire.
On June 16, 1964 in Longdale, Miss., Mount Zion A.M.E. Church parishioners were beat by the Ku Klux Klan as they were leaving a church meeting. The Klan’s intended target was a civil rights activist, Michael Schwerner, who was not there. The wood-framed church, a historic safe haven for slaves, was burned down.
Blacks in America have known and experienced a history of violence, which they continue to live. It doesn’t matter that Barack Obama was elected the first Black President as long as the type of racially motivated hate crimes continue. America has a lot of work to do. If discrimination in the areas of education, employment, technology, housing and so on exist and people refuse to or fail to change their preconceived ideas about Blacks, the horrors from racially motivated practices will continue to impact America.
Blacks owe themselves first to make it their responsibility to do whatever it takes to see to it that they take back their lives and work to change the relationship with America and the world. Second they must tell their story their way and commit that they will not standby and let anybody destroy their families, communities ad or race.