Civil rights organizations issue joint statement on S.C. church shooting

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Washington, D.C. – The America Healing initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a collective of community-based leaders, civil rights advocates, academics and journalists from more than 350 organizations,  issued the following joint statement on yesterday’s shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine people dead:

Last night the unspeakable happened in an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina. The resulting death of worshippers practicing their faith, at the hands of a killer intent on instilling fear and terror in the community, deeply grieves and saddens us. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.

As members of communities who have faced bigotry and who are working to eliminate hate, injustice and violence, we stand in solidarity with the community of Charleston, the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the Black community and all those who reject hatred and violence. It is important for us to stand with one another now and affirm that an attack against one group is an attack against all and is destructive to our entire nation.

These are troubling times in our country, not unlike a few generations ago when assaults on Black churches were frequently in the headlines. Many among us still carry the scars of that history and are reminded of them by this shooting in Charleston. Our deep faith, our strong commitment to community, our willingness to make the sacrifices needed to “stay in the struggle” supplied us with courage and determination then and can support us now.

It is especially important to affirm in this moment our commitment to all life but our particular support for Black life. “Black life matters” is a frequently heard refrain in the streets across our country today. We think it appropriate to echo that refrain in this statement and invite you to affirm it in your work and as you link arms with one another.

We join all communities mourning the loss of innocent lives in Charleston and we lift up prayers for the healing of individuals, families, communities and our nation. We will continue to work for greater understanding, justice and civil rights for all Americans.

Our nation was founded on the core values of liberty and justice for all – we are united and determined in ensuring that this ideal becomes the reality for all.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) says the America Healing initiative was launched in 2010 “to foster racial healing and racial equity and to change hearts, minds and the deeply held and often unconscious biases that cause structural inequities for children and their families, especially children of color.”

Now in its fifth year, the effort has invested more than $135 million in a national network of partner organizations deeply committed to creating conditions for the optimal development of children, rejecting racism and discrimination and beginning a process of healing across the country.