Last week Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Emanuel AME) announced that architect Michael Arad, the designer of the National September 11 memorial in New York City, will design a memorial to honor the Emanuel Nine.

Arad spoke at a press conference this weekend, saying, “Being asked to design this memorial is a humbling and tremendous responsibility. I will do my utmost to honor the memory of the deceased and give voice to the injured, the grieving families, and the community. If we are able to shine a light on the beauty, resiliency and love that was shown by members of this congregation and the community of Charleston, we will succeed in showing the best of humankind in the wake of the worst.”

Arad met with members of the victims’ families to discuss the design; his vision for the memorial is still in the concept phase. The Charleston-based Beach Company first started plans for the memorial in July 2015 when the company approached Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr., presiding elder of the Edisto district of the AME church, and asked for his blessing to create a memorial fund and community partnership with the church.

The memorial fund is currently accepting tax-deductible donations, which can be made online, or by writing a check to “Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation” c/o Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St, Charleston, SC 29401.

Arad’s September 11 design was chosen out of 5,200 entries in 2004, and while the memorial’s construction faced some controversy (and intense scrutiny), it was ultimately completed in 2011. The design has been described as having “an otherness which is absolutely perfect,” and Emanuel AME Pastor Reverend Manning says, “Michael Arad’s design for the September 11 Memorial expresses both the devastating loss of life, while also expressing peace, comfort and hope.”

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