June 22, 2015
Last week, a horrible and evil act occurred on the streets of Charleston when an individual opened fire in Mother Emanuel AME Church driven purely by hatred and racism. 9 innocent lives, including state Senator and Pastor Clementa Pickney, were taken. Whenever these horrible acts happen, I am always shocked and heartbroken, but especially so when it happens on our own streets.
Following the senseless loss of these 9 innocent lives, Charleston and all of South Carolina came together to mourn these individuals. More importantly, we rejected the murderer’s plan to bring division and to start a race war, and we showed the nation that we united together in faith and the inherent value of every human life, regardless of differences in background, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The media and those who sought to capitalize on divisions were surprised at how we responded, but I was not.
Faith and I were in Charleston over the weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and we had a chance to see firsthand how the community responded to the incident. The strong faith in God shown by the families of the victims is an integral foundation of our communities. Faith and I had a chance to go by the church and stand with the families and community and do our small part to show our support. The Charleston community and South Carolina will heal, and we will continue to stand as a model of forgiveness, faith, and unity for the nation. Please continue to Pray for Charleston.
Some have seen our unity and tried to cause division on a number of political issues. We should reject that – the deaths of 9 innocent lives should never be used to divide and for political gain. However, this incident has also opened old wounds that should have been healed long ago. My faith teaches me that I should always seek reconciliation from my brother in Christ.This afternoon, Gov. Haley called for removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the statehouse grounds. I believe that Gov. Haley is correct that the flag, though a symbol to many of our residents of their honorable heritage and history, has also been used by too many to divide and stoke the fires of racial hatred. This flag did not cause the deaths of 9 innocent people – the murderer is solely responsible for his actions. However, this symbol should not define our state 150 years after the end of the Civil War. In the coming months, our state leaders will debate the proper placement of the flag. I hope that we can engage in this debate in a spirit of reconciliation and unity.
District 2 Representative
Spartanburg County Council District 2
PS: Like my page on Facebook to stay connected with me. I will be sending out another newsletter later this week to provide an update on last month’s council meeting.