Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth
Leaping from Our Spheres
-- The Blog of UUWF's Affiliated Minister


charleston2The 21-year-old white man, clad in black despite the June swelter, entered Emanuel AME church in Charleston and sat for a while silently observing a small group of African American congregants holding Wednesday night bible study. And then, according to news reports, almost an hour after he arrived, he stood and pulled out a gun.

When he was asked — when he was begged — not to shoot, he said he had to. “You are raping our women and taking over our country.” And he proceeded to open fire, then fled.

The first day they were just described as nine victims. All but the pastor, nameless. Nothing more said at least in major media outlets.

A tweet went out the day after: #sayhername and then another: #saytheirnames. So now we see their pictures posted and their genders and ages shared. So now we know their names, a little about who they were and who and what they loved, and how they will be missed. Six women, three men.

The first person that Dylann Roof took aim at was the oldest person present,  a woman,  Susie Jackson, age 87. She was a longtime church member and sang in the choir.

And there were five other black women who were massacred, whose names I will say, and write, and hope to remember:

Depayne Middleton, 49 — Doctor, mother of four daughters, an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University, working toward becoming a minister.

Cynthia Hurd, 54 — Manager of one of the busiest branches of the Charleston County Library system, looking forward to retirement after 31 years.

Myra Thompson, 59 — Wife of the vicar of a nearby Reformed Episcopal Church. She had traveled over to join the Emanuel study group.

Ethel Lance, 70 — A Charleston native who had been a member of that church for most of her life, serving as the sexton for the past six years. She had five children, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 — An administrator for the church, a high school speech therapist, and a girl’s track and field coach. She had three children.

On this day I name them, and in the words of the poet Zelda:

Each of us has a name,
given to us by God,
and given to us by our father
and mother.
Each of us has a name,
given to us by our stature
and our way of smiling,
and given to us by our clothes.
Each of us has a name,
given to us by the mountains,
and given to us by our walls.
Each of us has a name,
given to us by the planets,
and given to us by our neighbors.
Each of us has a name,
given to us by our sins,
and given to us by our longing.
Each of us has a name,
given to us by our enemies,
and given to us by our love.

Leaping From Our Spheres

Rev. Marti KellerDon’t miss the “little gems full of both passion and facts” in the Blog of UUWF’s Affiliated Minister, Rev. Marti Keller.

UUWF’s Affiliated Ministry