Local leaders react to South Carolina church shooting

Local reactions to the killings of nine in a South Carolina church Wednesday night have led to a plea by two local civil rights leaders for discussion to change the mindset of our culture.

“These senseless killings tell us we still have much work to do,” Dr. Margaret Harlan, retired psychologist and President of the Rose Nolan Black History Library, told The Democrat in a phone interview. “The first step to end these acts is to honor and respect all human life.

“We have to honor and dignify all humans no matter what the color of their skin,” Harlan added. “All of us have to become anti-racists.”

According to Harlan, what must be done is to confront talk of racism whenever and wherever it is heard. In an effort to establish a dialogue on race, the Rose Nolan Black History Library is hosting a series of documentaries and discussions that center on the topic of the history race relations.

The first documentary was shown last Sunday.

“We watched ‘Freedom Summer’ and the library was stuffed to the rafters,” Harlan said. “This Sunday, we are showing ‘The Abolitionists.’ What we plan to do is what we did last week; watch an hour of the film, have a discussion about what we watched and then view the second half of the film and have a follow-up discussion.”

The final documentary, ‘Reconstruction: The Second Civil War,’ will be shown Sunday, June 28. The films are shown at 2 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Local NAACP President Rhonda Chalfant agrees with Harlan that all life must be respected and dignified.

“Every life is valuable in the sight of God,” Chalfant, told the Democrat by phone Thursday morning. “To think that someone would violate the sanctity of a church, and to think that someone would use race as a reason to kill another is horrifying beyond words.

“I am appalled as should everyone else should be,” Chalfant added.

“I think we are starting the dialogue,” Harlan said. “I am optimistic that we are getting there but we all have work to do.”

Sedalia Democrat
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