Funerals Begin For Those Slain At Emanuel AME Church

Jun 25, 2015
Originally published on June 26, 2015 11:44 am

Mourners will gather in South Carolina on Thursday for the funerals of the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Ethel Lance, two of the nine people who were killed during a Bible study meeting in Charleston last week.

Both Coleman-Singleton, 45, and Lance, 70, were integral members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where police say a white gunman attacked last week with the stated intention of killing black people. The case is being investigated as a hate crime.

Coleman-Singleton was the mother of three and a pastor at Emanuel. As we reported after the massacre, "she was also a speech therapist and high school girls track and field coach, both positions at Goose Creek High School."

Lance had both attended the church and worked in it for decades. A custodian, she had also worked at Charleston's Gaillard Municipal Auditorium.

As the epicenter of last week's shocking violence, the historic church known as Mother Emanuel has been the scene of prayer vigils, memorials, and public outpourings of both grief and solidarity. And last night, it hosted Wednesday Bible study once again. Dozens of people reportedly attended.

Friday will bring the funeral for state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, the senior pastor at Emanuel. He'll be eulogized by President Obama at Friday morning's service.

Thousands of people paid their respects to Pinckney on Wednesday, visiting the South Carolina State House where his open casket was placed by an honor guard from the Highway Patrol.

"We were just so heartbroken that we had to come here," Edna Nesbit, 67, of Hollywood, S.C., told the Post and Courier newspaper about her decision to come to Columbia. "It's just so nice to see the respect given to a man who died too early and for no reason — just racism."

Pinckney's widow, Jennifer, was among those present, along with the couple's two daughters, Eliana and Malana.

The State House has also been at the center of a newly energized effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from its grounds. Earlier this week, Gov. Nikki Haley and other prominent state leaders called for its removal.

During the public viewing of Pinckney's body, The State newspaper says, "a black curtain hung over two doors, obscuring from view the State House's north steps and grounds, where a Confederate flag flies."

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