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Charleston On My Mind
7/1/2015 3:53:43 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali

The City of Charleston, South Carolina, is truly a beautiful and historic location. It's one of America's greatest cities and it's admired the world over for grace and eloquence.

Charleston and its environs is affectionately called The Lowcountry. And to that arena, if you've ever visited here, you'll never, ever forget this location because it's one gorgeous place, and I'm very biased in saying that.

As I write this week's column, I can't help but reflect on how much notoriety this idyllic corner of the universe has garnered from all over the world as result of the deadly terroristic attack on one of the city's acclaimed structures. That location, infamously known to the nation and rest of the world, is the Emanuel A.M.E. Church.

It was there on June 17, 2015, that racist and segregation inspired terrorist Dylann Storm Roof invaded this sacred Christian sanctuary and, in stealth-like assassination style, murdered nine members of the church, who were attending a Wednesday night Bible study class. That dastardly act shook the nation and the world with collective shock and awe astonishment.

The sane and God fearing national majority, among the so-called "The American People," was so upset that they showed their uprightness and distain by uniting under the visible "hue-manistic" banners of having respect for all and the elimination of racial hatred. It was a resounding statement to the opponents of equality, justice and freedom for every American.

"The Emanuel 9," who paid the greatest sacrifice for equality, justice and freedom by giving their lives, have become a local and national symbol of precious endearment to the nation as symbols of racial justice. They, in their sacrifice, represent what good and decent Charleston is all about, bridging and crossing all color barriers and religious differences.

Their lives and sacrifices are what makes me write this week's thoughts entitled "Charleston on My Mind." So, I don't want you to ever forget them as you quietly move into another moment and another day because they should never be forgotten for what they've given to this great city's spiritual, racial and historic burgeoning legacy.

Charleston needs to always remember the sacrifices that these and other brave, innocent souls gave and have given to The Lowcountry. This city can never forget that it was a racist who may have aimed the pistol, pulled the trigger and subsequently took the lives of these immortal souls, for example, but there was a greater concern that produced this demented terrorist who existed in our midst. It's the issue of undercover racism and covert ethic bigotry.

America is going through a lot of political and spiritual changes, even as I write this piece for "The Chronicle," but we, as a nation, need to seriously address the issue of not-so-concealed racism that produced the terrorist who killed "The Emanuel 9."

Yes, Charleston, you are on my mind because "The Emanuel 9" should never be only remembered as an afterthought of a monstrous once in a lifetime happening.

Emanuel's late leader the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of those who lost their lives on June 17, was quite a leader and emerging politico in the making. He is still on my mind because you don't see young people like him everyday. I'd like to think he didn't die in vain.

The other eight souls who lost their lives are equally remembered in my sight because they were about serving God and trying to do some good for society and, for that, they were cowardly assassinated by terrorist Dylann Storm Roof. All eight of these noble men and women, along with their esteemed pastor and leader, brings Charleston to my mind one more time with a sense of prayer, commitment and hopefulness.

We, who call the greater Lowcountry home, should thank the Creator Alone for allowing us to be alive in this moment in this wonderful city in order to truly give thanks for this moment, even after the tragic events of the last few weeks. Dear Charleston, no matter what your religious tradition maybe, if you have or claim one, always keep that on your mind if you can and be not divided by things that you have no control of. Let go and let God do his thing.

I believe in the power of prayer to the one Creator Alone of everything and everyone. I thank that source (Alone) for our potentially great city, state and nation, hopefully and finally, rising pass the monuments of hatreds that dived us in the past. Do you hear me Charleston, because you are on my mind? As I look around "The Holy City," I see all kinds of diverse ethnic groupings and religions encompassing a new Charleston, vying for the best that they can add to this illustrious city's vitality. Again, Charleston, how can I forget you?

Yes, Charleston, we have a lot to be proud of because our city has won a rightful acclaim as a charmed place to be and live in. Everyone wants to live here. But must it be at the expense of many of its people of color being relegated to a continual and permanent second class citizenry.

Hmm! While you're pondering how to decipher that last sentence don't forget that "The Emanuel 9" were African-Americans, and they were "colored" souls who were still fighting for the freedom of their people, along with others.

That's how I view their sacrifices because the church where they were slaughtered has an "our-storical" reputation as being a religious beacon for spiritual freedom fighters. While "viving" on that thought, my dear Charleston, I'd like to leave you with some very empowering words from another great African-American Christian minister, who also was assassinated and he fought a not-so-long time ago for the freedoms of people of color here in this country. His name was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and please read his thoughts with a mind-set that requires humility.

He said, "We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountain top. And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land." In memory of Rev. Pinckney and the others who gave their lives in freedom's spiritual path, Charleston, you're on my mind. Please try to relate to the impact of "The Emanuel 9" on us and Dr. King's transcendent visionary message.

Dear Charleston, you and our future are what's on my mind. Kick racism to the curb. That applies to the rest of the state and nation too. I wish that we all would continue to come together in spiritual peace and respectful harmony. I'm sure "The Emanuel 9" and Dr. King would be proud of us if we did. For today and always, that's, "As I See It."


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