The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the target of violent racial animosity — and not for the first time in its history. Wednesday's horrific hate crime that killed nine people comes as the nation confronts race relations in the 21st century. The incident sparked shock and outrage across the country, and those on social media responded with the hashtag #IAmAME to express support for the Charleston church.
Since its formation in 1816, the historic Black church has time and again stood firm against racial hostility in the South. Though Wednesday's incident strikes the chillingly familiar tones of its long history, Emanuel has continuously emerged from the rubble to build a stronger, more resilient community. It is currently the largest church in the South Carolina capital and is one of America's most historically significant institutions.
On Thursday, #IAmAME surfaced on social media, reminding the church and its community that the rest of the country stood with them. Many sent their thoughts and prayers, and expressed their sorrow. But some also conveyed their frustration with the frequency of such events taking place, as racial tension in the country and lacking gun control laws (which President Obama addressed in his solemn statement on the shooting) continue.
[Cover image via Howard Arnoff/Flickr]