The strength we have seen from our city over the last few weeks is nothing less than remarkable. We have endured an unthinkable tragedy and lost nine beloved members of our community. Community members that were loving parents, passionate young entrepreneurs, faithful community servants, and much more. Instead of allowing this tragedy divide us, we joined together to create a stronger Charleston.
Over the last few weeks, we have demanded action. We have made our voices heard. We have shown the world our strength. We have done great things, but now is not the time to rest or disregard the challenges that still lie ahead. There is still work to be done. What happens after the flag comes down? How do we attain meaningful change that breaks down the systemic barriers that are keeping certain groups of people down?
The tragedy that overtook our community is not simply the result of one man’s instability but instead it is a reflection of inequality that pervades our society. It is a reflection of inequitable access to capital, the opportunity gap, education gap, wage gap, inadequate housing, economically segregated communities, urban disinvestment and rural poverty; it is the result of fear and racism.
One of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s greatest, but least well known, books was entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” Today, that question is still in need of an answer. In the conclusion to this book, Dr. King states, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. . . . This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos or community.”
I urge you all to seek long-lasting, fundamental change here in South Carolina, and throughout the country. I challenge you all to engage in hard discussions. I challenge you to think about the root causes of this tragedy and invest your time, and money, into addressing them. I challenge you to speak up and advocate for change. Tomorrow is today. Let’s look back at this as the time we seized opportunity. Let’s choose community.
Executive Director, SCCLF
ACT NOW. Click here for a list of efforts that have surfaced to address some of these systemic issues and information on how to get involved.