non-violent action
“Mother” Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, S.C.
“Mother” Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, S.C.

Recently a gunman walked into a church with intent to murder, cause mayhem and start a revolution against black people.

Instead, his killing of nine church members brought people of all faiths and color together, finding even those closest to the people he shot to forgive him.

God moves in mysterious ways.

The rampage in Charleston, S.C., known as the Holy City, indeed turned the people of that city not toward recrimination and violence, but to love, grace and forgiveness. While shootings in other cities have turned into rioting and burnings of buildings, instead the people of Charleston saw another way. Their actions spoke of love and redemption, and speaks well of their teaching in the Holy City.

We’re proud of the citizens of Charleston. Indeed, they have shown the rest of these United States that there is another way. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud.

Ironically, it often takes a crazy turn of circumstances for people to find the route to solve problems they often do not, or do not want, to recognize.

Who would have thought that one of the immediate consequences of the Charleston shootings would be for the state’s conservative Republican governor to speak out against flying the Confederate flag at the state capitol?

Not only that, but that this move to bring the Confederate flag into the discussion would be one that reverberates all across our country, making that symbol of the Old South a new rallying cry for all sorts of people of this country? Who would have thought?

In effect, it was the human heart speaking to our country, recognizing the sufferings of the people of Charleston, and in particular, the suffering of black people. We remember how our country has itself suffered from those who won’t give up a lost cause….one that brings division, not union, to our nation.

Overnight, finally people in many parts of the country “got it” about the Confederate flag, and were able to perceive that flag in a new light. No longer will most people fly or see that flag with sympathies for the old South. Now they can understand the problems that it causes, especially in the black community.

Yet there will be those who cannot put this flag and cause to rest. They will continue to unfurl those colors, waving them, and never recognize that most Americans look upon them with pity and disappointment that they continue to live in days gone by. Fortunately, these people are a tiny minority, one which may never see the light.

Our nation is newly inspired not by the heartbreaking shootings in Charleston, but by the turn of events that the shooting have engendered.

While other incidents have brought little change in our nation’s gun laws, somehow this tragedy in Charleston seems a little different, perhaps engineered by the actions of the Emanuel AME Church’s congregation in showing love and forgiveness to the shooter.

Maybe this time we can stimulate movement to quell the National Rifle Association’s lock on our Congress, and move toward a more civilized legislative agenda to curtail the gun lobby. But this hasn’t happened previously when those with weapons have brought destruction to individuals, families, communities.

Non-violent action of love and forgiveness is a powerful weapon. The people of Charleston recognized this, and showed the nation their understanding. We optimistically pray that more good can come from this tragic situation out of Charleston.

Editor's Note: This story first appeared at the Gwinnett Forum. Image: The steeple of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC by Spencer Means via his Flickr photo stream and used under creative commons license.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County,, and Georgia news,