From Charleston To Orlando: Solidarity In The Wake Of Tragedy

Today (June 17) marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. During bible study, Dylann Roof walked in, opened fire and killed nine of the church’s members. Roof, a young white male, targeted the group in an act of hate solely because they were African-American.

In the early hours of Sunday (June 12), Omar Mateen used a pistol and an assault rifle to bring tragedy upon unsuspecting clubgoers at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Fla. With 49 dead and another 50 injured, the LGBTQ community is still aching and struggling to find a way to pick itself back up again.

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Bonded by the burden of tragedy and sorrow, Betty Deas Clark, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church, traveled down to Orlando to extend a hand of empathy. Although she was supposed to be on her way to the White House to participate in the State of Women Summit, Clark felt her heart being tugged in a different direction.

“I came here instead because I know the result of people coming and showing their love,” she says. “The privilege of coming and being with them (here) has touched my heart.”

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While in Orlando, Clark reportedly attended counseling sessions at local places of worship. She also joined a conference call with other religious leaders to speak to reporters about the need for greater restrictions on gun control and the affects of attacks such as those that occurred in Charleston and Orlando. She expressed that it was not a pleasure to be in Orlando under such circumstances, but she felt she was serving a duty to speak out against hate and violence.

“We don’t have to like the same things, but we should at least love each other,” Clark says.