It Happened on Calhoun Street…

… in a church that was founded by Denmark Vesey.

… just a few miles from the opening salvo of a rebellion intended to establish a slaveholding republic.

… just up the road from Columbia, where a Confederate flag still flies on the capitol grounds

… – a street named after one of the intellectual architects of white supremacy.

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43 comments… add one
  • Annette Jackson Jun 21, 2015 @ 15:01

    I should have said a mental health break! Think it will take more than a day!

  • Annette Jackson Jun 21, 2015 @ 14:23

    I have never encountered such wild irrational thinking as over the battleflag….the idea that it has no place on government property is driving some to disrespect everything about modern culture, uttering vile and hateful statements towards anyone who disagrees with them. I am going to stay off of CW sites except for this one for a week to give myself a mental health day.

  • Julian Jun 21, 2015 @ 10:16

    One obvious thing is that five decades after the Civil Rights movement – the social and educational measures consciously put in place to improve racial dialogue, harmony and interaction have not worked or are not working. The news for the first half of 2015 suggests that the incidences of publicly enacted racial tensions is beginning to match that of flashpoints in the 50s/60s and later 1960s – what has gone wrong – what has backfired – what should be rethought – what can be done that institutes meaningful, productive changes for all parties. Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity … are we reaping the outcome of that insanity – in what ways can we globally address the unravelling social fabric and acknowledge the feelings and needs of all stakeholders

  • Marian Latimer Jun 20, 2015 @ 12:16

    Something has been nagging at the back of my addled brain for the past several days and yesterday it finally dawned at me when I read some of the comments by the usual suspects in the Detroit papers (I can’t give up keeping up on what’s going on up in my former home) who are always there to jump on articles about racial or gender (usually women’s pay or rape) issues, which they pride themselves to be expert on. Several were lamenting that the alerts began with the fact they were looking for a white man and OMG, how you never hear this when it’s a person of color, yadda, yadda. Then, as usual, being slow to catch on, I finally got what was bothering me, it was the constant references to a black church and the fact that we still, in 2015, continue to have the most segregated hour (or hours?) on Sunday mornings. It was further reinforced by what the maintenance guy told me the other day when he was making some repairs in my apartment. His church has guys who wear jackets/suit coat type things and under them they wear guns, pistols, I presume, and they walk around the sanctuary and the parking lot and if any of “those people” come around or try anything, they are ready for them. I did not ask who those people were and I was grateful for the fact, for once, that I had to go to therapy. I was, frankly, quite surprised.

    I’m Catholic, although I’m not practicing and haven’t for several years, because of health issues and just some issues with the parish where I used to live, but generally, since most are the only choice Catholics have in an area, they are pretty mixed and often even have a Spanish mass. I haven’t checked out the church here, but I presume it too will be fairly mixed, and since the new pope seems a little less restrictive, I may just take a look. (I’m one of those radical Catholics who would probably protest at a nuclear plant, demand women be priests, etc.)

    I guess it’s just a little sad we still have to say a black church, or as I’ve seen other churches that choose to cater to a specific nationality, for example, like Korean Baptist, etc. I don’t think this is what any deity had in mind and while I appreciate the history, someone among these talking heads needs to address this issue as to why we still segregate ourselves in the name of faith.

  • Andy Hall Jun 20, 2015 @ 9:07

    What appears to be the gunman’s personal website has turned up Saturday morning, with photos of him posing with a Confederate flag. He also credits his racial views as beginning with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group founded by the late Gordon Baum, father-in-law of Brad Griffin, who is himself a prominent white nationalist. Griffin is in Union Springs, Alabama today attending a rally about the Confederate cemetery there, and likely hasn’t seen the manifesto, but he’s already aligned himself with the shooter’s beliefs with a post asking, “Should The Negro Rule; Or, Does Dylann Roof Have a Point?” While it remains to be seen what ties the gunman had to organizations like the CCC, the League of the South and others, its very clear that the gunman had adopted their ideology, and was acting upon it.

    A few of the pictures posted to the website include Confederate flags, but there are also lots of images of him at plantations, around restored slave cabins, at an SCV-sponsored museum in Greenville, at Confederate batteries overlooking Charleston harbor, and at the Confederate plot at Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia. There’s no question, from his writing and the images he posted, that he strongly and actively identified with antebellum South and the Confederacy.

    • Annette Jackson Jun 20, 2015 @ 12:16

      There is so much that just overwhelmed me reading these posts. I have a friend who belongs to the Sons of Confederate Veterans whom I know would never harm another human being over that flag. He has strong opinions about the “biker elements” (please don’t take offense if you ride a motorcycle) in the SCV and similar organizations.BUT, I do not buy the “it’s heritage not hate” statements that I hear or read constantly. I find it interesting that the only member of the GOP to openly call for the removal of the flag is Mitt Romney. The only flags that should be flown on state property are the American flag, the state flag, and the POW MIA flag. The flags associated with the Confederacy can go in a museum. As there is no CSA, there is no state that belongs to it. Welcome to the 21st Century and 2015 …

      • Andy Hall Jun 20, 2015 @ 12:34

        A GOP member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, State Rep. Doug Brannon, announced yesterday evening that he would introduce legislation in the next session to remove the flag from the State House grounds. He said that before the gunman’s manifesto and photo album revealed him to be a big fan of the Confederacy and the antebellum order in South Carolina. Bannon’s action, if he follows through, is one that takes some real political courage in South Carolina, especially for the GOP, in a state where every elected official has to toe a careful line between keeping his- or her distance from the flag, and openly criticizing it. Back in 2010, when she was first running for governor, Nikki Haley was obligated to sit down for a haranguing from a group called the Palmetto Patriot, about the Confederate flag and the forces of “cultural genocide” that want to remove it.

        • Andy Hall Jun 20, 2015 @ 12:35
          • Annette Jackson Jun 20, 2015 @ 13:55

            And Haley caved in, unfortunately. This was not the first time that Romney made a statement about the flag. It was either 2008 or 2009 when asked about the flag that he said it wasn’t one he recognized. And of course he us being hit with hateful statements …and the GOP candidates must have their knickers in a twist but I don’t expect any of them to be a profile in courage.

  • Leo Jun 20, 2015 @ 5:02
    • Andy Hall Jun 20, 2015 @ 9:39

      When the Confederate Heritage crowd loses the SBC, it’s. . . well, just wow. Moore:

      In order to prop up this system, a system that benefited the Mammonism of wealthy planters, Southern religion had to carefully weave a counter-biblical theology that could justify it (the biblically ridiculous “curse of Ham” concept, for instance). In so doing, this form of southern folk religion was outside of the global and historic teachings of the Christian church. The abolitionists were right—and they were right not because they were on the right side of history but because they were on the right side of God.

      Talk about kicking them right in the butternuts. . . .

      I grew up in Southern Baptist Convention churches, and while I can’t see returning to that denomination, the SBC has come a long way on the subject of race, and deserves credit for doing so.

      • Ken Noe Jun 20, 2015 @ 13:06

        Hearts and minds are suddenly changing. I guess people are mad enough now.

  • David Jun 19, 2015 @ 12:42

    I believe after SC seceded from the Union, a popular, and highly respected South Carolinian, (and Charlestonian) by the name of James Petigru said…..”South Carolina is too small to be a republic, and too big to be an Insane Asylum”. I read it in the book………….James Louis
    Petigru: Southern Conservative,
    Southern Dissenter, by William and
    Jane Pease. I had just finished this book when the shooting occurred. I highly recommend it.

    • Annette Jackson Jun 19, 2015 @ 13:18

      My favorite quote!

  • David Jun 19, 2015 @ 12:12

    I couldn’t agree with you more Annette.

    • Annette Jackson Jun 19, 2015 @ 12:42

      It is a sad commentary that many black churches have for years hired armed security guards for their regular Sunday worship services. Now are they going to have to have one for every activity.

  • Annette Jackson Jun 19, 2015 @ 3:52

    As long as teenagers continue to see Confederate battleflags as “cool” and so called heritage groups “just want to celebrate their ancestors” we may be a lost nation. We need to talk about the racism in this country and the glorification of guns. I support the second amendment but too many seem to engage in what amounts to worship.

  • Marian Latimer Jun 18, 2015 @ 18:10

    It’s stupid, but I wondered what was with the Amish haircut he had and to me, the somewhat blurry shots of him leaving the church, the yellow emblem on his sweatshirt (in June in SC, really?) looked like the Star of David emblem the Jews had to sew on their clothing in WWII. Stupid, I know. I’m on pain meds. He didn’t have the traditional skinhead look. So I guess I was stereotyping…

  • Gregory A. Rowe Jun 18, 2015 @ 14:08

    I’m sure this post or any other comment on this topic, will be construed as it will. Like many things, proximity to events, past and present, will affect perception. Being in Texas, there may even be African-Americans here who are unfamiliar with the history of this church.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2015 @ 14:15

      Part of what prompted this post is my own memory of two visits to the church. On both occasions I co-lead a group of history teachers on a Civil War/slavery tour of Charleston. It’s an impressive place.

  • Rob Baker Jun 18, 2015 @ 10:36

    Some of the online articles and Facebook groups have pictures of him driving the car with the Confederate tags. It is also interesting that the word “Confederate” began trending last night after the shooting.

  • Leo Jun 18, 2015 @ 9:24

    While there is no evidence at this time connecting this senseless murder to the flag on the capitol grounds, I can’t help but recall the chants of, “Off the dome and in your face!” as the battle flag of the Confederacy was raised next to the monument. It seems South Carolina, and the South in general, cannot escape its shameful past. Those who chanted that day did nothing to honor the memory of the common solider in grey. In fact, they only helped sully an already battered public image of those fallen veterans and of the South. Will we ever learn?

  • Annette Jackson Jun 18, 2015 @ 8:45

    According to the adult witness, the shooter said that he “had to do it, you rape our women, I want to take my country back.” For a couple of years now I have been more than a little uneasy about the political figures who screech “we need to take our country back,” that some day an individual is going to commit murder inspired by that slogan. I would like to take our country back as well, to get it away from the people who use a twisted combination of “patriotism” and religion to espouse hatred.

  • Patrick Jennings Jun 18, 2015 @ 8:28

    It hardly carries any weight in the vast tragedy of what happened in Charleston, but an important SCOTUS decision came down today regarding the confederate flag. It matters and should be discussed as, in a small way, it matters.

  • Craig Swain Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:10

    … and he flees to an area not far from where the last meetings of the Confederate government were held.

  • Debmeister1966 Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:48

    In the photograph provided by law enforcement, Roof is wearing a jacket sporting the patches of old Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and apartheid South Africa. The brutal treatment of black Africans by both countries are well documented. I hope the FBI picks up on this fact. Unfortunately, many Americans are not knowledgeable of the historic flags of African nations and so Roof was probably able to wear his jacket without any problem.

    • Robert Moore Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:54

      This is the report I saw as well, from The Post and Courier.

    • Robert Moore Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:55
      • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:56

        Thanks, Robert.

      • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:07

        Just saw a very clear photograph of the suspect in front of a car that includes a plate with Confederate flags.

        This post, however, was written without assuming anything about the shooter.

        • Robert Moore Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:17

          Understood, but… in your post you did everything but ask the question… “coincidence?”

          The 21 year-old seems rather crafty in his symbolism, but that’s not to say (yet) that he’s actually well-versed about the sites around his actions. We’ll see…

          I’m sure we’ll all be better informed soon enough.

          I’m trying to post this a second time, so if this is a duplicate, please disregard.

          • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:19

            I was trying to impart a sense of space and proximity to the past.

            • Robert Moore Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:26

              Understood again, but, given the timing of the post and history of your blogging, today’s post could have been taken in ways you did not intend (for example… fanning flames before details were known). To be honest, that is the way that it came across to me.

              • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:51

                Most of what I’ve written over the years, regardless of clarity, has been interpreted in ways that fall way beyond what I intended. Place and historical memory were on my mind and I expressed it briefly in this post. Readers are free to take what they will from it. Thanks for the comments, Robert.

          • msb Jun 19, 2015 @ 0:31

            The Guardian is reporting that the young man’s intention was to spark a race war. So the answer to the question, is this a coincidence, appears to be no, pretty decisively.

  • Robert Moore Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:35

    … and yet, the person in custody might or might not have any connections to any or all of these. Why don’t we see how things unfold before suggesting the dots might be connected?

    • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:39

      It is being reported that the shooter’s car include a Confederate flag displayed on it.

      • Robert Moore Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:43

        Key word… “reported”, without “confirmation”. Give it time.

      • Shanon Hays Stroer Jun 18, 2015 @ 7:52

        The perpetrator was also photographed wearing a jacket with an apartheid flag patch on it. From here in Charleston, it looks like the dots are pretty well connected and that this IS a hate crime.

    • dmichael Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:51

      Suspect identified here with photo: “The suspect has been identified as Dylann Roof, a 21 year old from Columbia, South Carolina. What appears to be his Facebook Profile picture shows him wearing a jacket displaying the flags of Rhodesia and Apartheid-era South Africa:” (I apparently can’t imbed the photo. New York Times has it.)

      • Jerry McKenzie Jun 19, 2015 @ 7:42

        And now confirmed his car license plate (front) had the flags of the Confederacy on it.

  • David Jun 18, 2015 @ 6:26

    Thank you Kevin. Some historical background on the church, etc., was a great idea. I thought they had removed the confederate flag from the SC statehouse along time ago. Evidently, I was mistaken. Events like what happened on Wednesday night just add more innocent blood to this flag, which was already saturated. If it ever was a symbol of “Southern Heritage”, it’s not anymore. It’s a symbol of hatred, intolerance to others, and could be construed by some, (like the murdered of last night), as a symbol of justification of his actions…………flying over the state house. It should be struck today…..not flown at half mast! That, to me, is an absurdity.

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