My heart is full. Charleston, South Carolina has been my family’s vacation destination for over a decade. We have a property off the Isle of Palms. If you know anything about this historic southern city, you know it is full of charm, elegance, beaches and great low country food. Yet, it is truly still in many ways, segregated, with the inner city area and outskirts housing poor and working class blacks, and the coastal and wealthy suburbs housing whites. It is like going back into time with Charleston Harbor still a reminder of the first shots fired to start the Civil War off of Ft. Sumter in 1861. Sprawling 17th century Plantations adorn Mt. Pleasant, particularly Boone Hall where epic movies like North & South, Queen and others were filmed. And the Gullah women (who are native Africans to the region since slavery) still make beautiful baskets on the side of the roads.
Yet, what Charleston has taught our nation over the past week, is more than just that a confederate flag still waves. Yes, it does. But, the good people of Charleston have banded together. Black and white. Rich and poor. And they have held hands. They have hugged. They have just fellowshipped one with another. And they have tried to heal the racial wounds of their past, suddenly re-opened by a crazed racist gun-man seeking to start a race war in this quiet southern city. Not too long ago an unarmed black man was shot in cold blood by a rogue police-man chasing him through a field. Yet, there were no protests, or riots. No burnings or looting. Not in dignified Charleston. Home of the historic Emanuel Mother AME Church, where nine souls were taken by the lone gunman at Bible Study in Church last Wednesday.
Charleston has modeled to the nation and to the world what it means to forgive. The victims families did something profound in the presence of the monster that killed their loved ones: They forgave. I believe that God himself is glorified in this horror. And I thank my fellow Americans in the sleepy south of Charleston for waking the rest of us up with your love. May God bless and keep you all.