[image-1]Nine lives were lost June 17, 2015. Lives — lived in service to their friends, family, and community — that served as inspiration to others long before they became martyrs.
Rev. Clementa Pinckney was an imposing, yet gentle man, an inspiring pastor and respectful lawmaker, who dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel and protecting his flock.
Myra Thompson was a former schoolteacher and counselor who had just begun to follow her calling as a preacher. Her husband, Rev. Anthony Thompson, has said her smile and the look in her eyes was always enough to stop him in his tracks.
Ethel Lance was funny and outgoing, but the loss of her daughter to cancer in 2013 weighed heavily on Lance. She would sing to lift her spirits, and served as a committed custodian to Mother Emanuel.
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor wished to counsel those looking to further their education. Still she found time to serve her church, with her four daughters always close behind.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a loving mother as well, who shaped the lives of countless young athletes.
Cynthia Graham-Hurd shared her love through literature. Now her name lives on through the library dedicated in her honor.
Susie Jackson was the oldest victim that night two years ago. In her 87 years, she met all those she encountered with strength and kindness.
Tywanza Sanders remains a symbol of the potential lost that night inside Mother Emanuel. Fresh out of school, he was talented and committed to guiding his younger family members to follow the right path. A tireless writer, he also had plans to open his own barbershop. Standing up to his murderer on the night of his death, Sanders called out for the killing to end. In the wake of his death, Sanders’ mother said he left behind enough of his poetry to last her the rest of her life.
Now two years removed from the deaths of these nine individuals, it becomes less a matter of assessing their loss, and more a duty to carry on in their memory. To do the work that needs to be done. To bring to an end the cycle of violence that robbed them from this world.