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These are historic times for Charleston. This summer, our city bore witness to an act that recalled its darkest days: the racially-motivated massacre of nine African-American parishioners and community leaders in the state’s most historic Black church.
Since that horrific June night, much has shown that this is not the past. Love and support and flowers and money and food have flooded the city and Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in an unprecedented groundswell of solidarity. The Confederate flag, for so long a symbol and source of entrenched opposition within this state and across the nation, went down with a whimper. It seems, and we’re told, that much has changed.
And yet—much hasn’t changed, and needs to. Racism’s roots run deep. While we can all easily disavow the work of a hate-filled and wayward young man, it is less easy to confront the insidious societal forces that shaped him and the ideology to which he subscribes. It is less easy to acknowledge that indifference and ignorance, over time, can be more dangerous than an assault rifle in the hands of a terrorist.
Real change starts with honest conversation. This fall, Wide Angle Lunches and the Charleston Library Society will host a sustained conversation over five weeks. Our speakers are educators and activists, thinkers and doers. They are committed both to understanding the past and charting the future. I hope you will join this critical conversation and learn how we might turn last summer’s suffering into a better, fairer, stronger Charleston.