Articles tagged "Charleston SC"

An Interview with Jennifer Berry Hawes

After the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes knew this was a story that needed telling. In GRACE WILL LEAD US HOME: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness, she offers a moving portrait of the events and emotions that emerged in the massacre’s wake. Today, Hawes joins us to share more about her writing experience, to highlight a courageous librarian named Cynthia Hurd, and to talk about life as a Charlestonian since that terrible day in 2015.

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How did you decide you wanted to write a book on the massacre?

I didn’t think about writing a book until five or six months after June 17, 2015. I had been covering the aftermath of the shooting for the newspaper I work for in Charleston and had begun to realize that, while the massacre itself had caused such unimaginable pain for the survivors and the victims’ loved ones, it was only the opening chapter of a much more complex story. I have since come to think of mass shootings as akin to tossing a rock into a pond. The initial impact disrupts the surface in obvious ways. But then ripple upon ripple of disruption spreads from that impact. This is what happens after these events, and happened here, from divisions among families and the church to divisions within families grappling with so much pain. Add in critical issues to our nation–race and gun violence–and this became a much more complicated story than we could tell in our newspaper. My editors agreed. As people who live and breathe Charleston, we wanted to bear witness to this deeper narrative.

Tell us a little about the librarian, Cynthia Hurd, one of the nine people killed in the church.

To me, the lush garden of climbing roses and overflowing window boxes that Cynthia meticulously tended outside of her home beautifully illustrates her essence. She was a helper, a nurturer, a warm spirit who greeted people with a wide, toothy smile. When her sister, Jackie, was diagnosed with cancer just a couple of weeks before the shooting, Jackie called Cynthia first. “I got you,” Cynthia promised, and everyone knew she meant it. When Cynthia agreed to stay at Bible study on June 17, she had plans to go with Jackie, who lived two states away, to meet with doctors and discuss her treatment options the following week.

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