Three women who survived the 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel sat down with Hoda Kotb from Today to discuss the power of forgiveness and finding strength in loss.
Felicia Sanders, Polly Sheppard, and Jennifer Pinckney met with Kotb at Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston to discuss where they are in their recovery for the national broadcast which aired this morning on NBC.
Sanders, whose son Tywanza and aunt Susie Jackson were among the nine killed during Bible study at the Calhoun Street AME church, survived the massacre and forgave the 21-year-old white supremacist who killed her loved ones at an emotional hearing just days later. Sanders also protected her granddaughter during the shooting and told Kotb that forgiveness wasn’t hard, but that the pain lingers. “Some days you can conquer the world, and other days you just want to hurry up and go away.”
The killer, Dylann Roof, was convicted of federal hate crimes in December 2016 and sentenced to the death penalty the next month. He is awaiting execution.
Sheppard, who also survived the shooting, told Kotb that she finds strength in Sanders’ perseverance after losing her 26-year old son during the massacre.
Pinckney, who was in an adjacent room with her two daughters when her husband Clementa was shot and killed, said that she sometimes struggles with forgiveness, thinking of her daughters becoming adults without a father, but said she knows it’s the right thing to do. President Barack Obama traveled to Charleston to deliver the eulogy at her husband’s public funeral at TD Arena.
“Don’t you get tired sometimes of always being strong?” Kotb asked.
“All the time,” Sanders responded, the others nodding.