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Survivors Of Emanuel Massacre Need Money Too
7/29/2015 5:14:05 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Okay, here I go. This is a column I’m most reluctant to write.

People get real funny when you talk about the money. But as literally millions of dollars pour into the Emanuel AME Church family as a result of the massacre of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Depayne Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Singleton and Myra Thompson I hope their families get a lot of that money.

No amount of money can compensate those families for their loss - and this ain’t about compensation. But I think if all this money is coming into the church’s family, the survivors of those slaughtered people should get a big portion.

I remember something the late A.J. Clement Jr. told me years ago about his job as head honcho at North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company. He said as families grieved the loss of their loved ones, when there were no words that could offer enough comfort, he was able to go to them with some money.

As the donations began to pour into our community after the murder of those folks at Emanuel, I initially thought the money was being donated to the families - and I’m sure a lot of it was - then I realized a lot of the public announcements I was hearing noted that much of those donations were being made to the church and other stuff.

Ya’ll forgive me. Maybe it’s just me, but I was thinking like the Charleston Nine firemen donations, that money should have been going to the families. By the way, what’s up with this ‘Emanuel Nine’ designation? Those were nine people murdered in horrible fashion. How can we relegate that tragedy to some cliché?

Anyway, I opened the discussion about the money at the watering hole and got chopped up. Those guys were saying you can’t give families that money. First of all, who’s to say who the next of kin are. Moreover, the next of kin may not be those closest to the individual. I thought about the proverbial black sheep of the family who no matter how dastardly, grandma always would go into that handkerchief she keeps in her bosom whenever he asks for some cash.

The old man said the money should go towards the victims’ survivors’ college funds. Well, what if a kid doesn’t want to go to college? He said the money then should go back into some fund. Fortunately there are folks smarter than me and the guys at the water hole handling the donations coming in since the massacre. Emanuel member William Gregorie said I’m probably headed in the wrong direction with my thoughts. There are several different funds designated for different purposes, he said. One pot, created by a recent Charleston Place fundraiser designated all proceeds to the families.

Church member Maxine Smith told me while some funds are going to the church designations have, and continue to be made to survivors. Donors can make those designations when they contribute, she noted. Last week Emanuel Interim Pastor Rev. Norvel Goff announced the church’s ‘Moving Forward’ campaign. Some $2,234, 500 had been received for the church’s efforts as of July 22. The announcement however, didn’t note what’s been donated to survivors. The church will serve as good stewards and the survivors will be taken care of, Gregorie insisted.

If Emanuel takes care of the survivors as its taking care of the contributions made to the church, I’m sure the survivors will be taken care of well. Spiritual guidance and counseling services are ongoing for survivors, the church family and the community at large. The church also plans to offer services in a building next to the church.

I was impressed to learn the church has acquired the services of Young Clement Rivers, LLP Managing Partner Wilbur Johnson to assist it. Johnson is experienced in civil law including laws governing the operations of churches and other non-profit organizations. Smith says systems are being put in place.

All that’s good. I just want the survivors to get a lot of that money. Sister Singleton has young kids, one in college, who have to grow up without the income she provided. Tony lost the other half of his partnership and Tyrone’s boy had a whole life ahead of him. Who knows what that boy could have accomplished financially?

As I said in the beginning, this is a touchy subject and there’s no way to be sensitive about it. So I’ll simply say, give them people some money.

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