“We were humbled and we wanted to honor the victims….and I hope we did that” is one of the insights the authors of WE ARE CHARLESTON shared with the Daniel Island Historical Society Tuesday night at the DIHS monthly meeting.
WE ARE CHARLESTON is an account of the horrific murders at a bible study group in June 2015 at the historic Mother Emanuel Church and how the community, black and white, came together in a spirit of forgiveness. That community wide reaction led to the book’s subtitle TRAGEDY AND TRIUMPH AT MOTHER EMANUEL which was also the title of the DIHS program.
Actually only two of the three authors….historian Bernard Powers and South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth were at the meeting. The third member of the team, former journalist Herb Frazier had to miss the event due to a family matter.
Powers and Wentworth gave some behind the scenes glimpses of the dynamic of three people, each accomplished and published authors who had never worked together, dealing with the emotion, stress and time crunch of writing what amounts to history happening in real time.
They came out of it feeling like “brothers and sister” according to Powers who also spoke of the “extensive and unabashed constructive criticism” the three exchanged.
A major theme of the discussion, and obviously of the book, was forgiveness. Perhaps that would better be written in all caps…FORGIVENESS.
They discussed how some, not all, of the murder victims surviving family stood at accused killer Dylann Roof’s bond hearing and declared their forgiveness. They quoted a family member who put that phenomenon in perspective by saying forgiveness is not absolution—but it takes power away from the killer.
Powers and Wentworth agreed that early in the process they decided the book was about the victims, the survivors, the congregation and the community, not about the accused murderer.