On June 17, 2015, 21 year old Dylann Storm Roof walked into Charleston’s historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed nine parishioners with the intent of starting a race war. The bold and horrific act broke the hearts of many Americans who couldn’t understand how in 2015, such an act of terror could take place.
Rev. Daniel Simmons Snr was one of the nine victims killed on June 17, and his granddaughter, Alana Simmons was on hand Thursday (February 25) to attend an advance screening of Hate In America, a docu-series by the Southern Poverty Law Center in coordination with the Investigation Discovery network.
Moderated by journalist Tony Harris, the series chronicles six specific cases and acts of hate in the United States dating back to 1981’s Klu Klux Klan killing of Michael Donald in Mobile, Ala,. Famously known as the “Last Lynching in America,” two Klansmen saw the 19 year old walking down the road and asked for directions. Once Donald approached the car, a Klansmen took a gun out forcing Donald into the vehicle. After driving to a remote location, Donald attempted to a make a run for it, but was caught by both Klansmen who beat him within an inch of his life and then slit his throat. Donald was then placed in the trunk of the car and driven back to a nearby neighborhood where his lifeless body was hung from a noose and placed on display.
Harris spoke to Donald’s surviving family and the lawyer, Morris Dees, also co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, about how he prosecuted the Klan to win the landmark case.
Donald’s case along with the Charleston Nine and more are all brought to life in the series. With re-enactments and actual footage from certain event, viewers will see the extent many will go to carry out their heinous crimes. And while the the acts of the transgressors are repugnant, vile and pure evil, the faith, mercy and forgiveness of those effected by it continue to demonstrate the power in humanity.
Hate In America premieres Monday, February 29 at 8PM EST on Investigation Discovery