Charleston’s United Strive: A Talk at Emanuel AME Church

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, more than 70 people gathered in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church   to witness part two of The Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative’s Your Truth Series, produced by The Sophia Institute.

In this discussion, Reverend Nelson B. Rivers III and Judge Alex Sanders took the stage to attest for shared perspectives on controversial topics happening in society.

Judge Alex Sanders began the conversation by stating that the audience was simply  “eavesdropping” on a frequent topic between these two, and humorously added “not to expect too much.”

One of the main issues that surfaced in this conversation was the argument on the removal of confederate statues/monuments. Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III reflected on the personal anecdote of Emanuel AME church  being the foundation of many events in his life, and how in one instant the foundation could be changed forever. His friends were unfortunately apart of the mass shooting that took place in the same setting two years before. Rev. Rivers compared Dylann Roof to John C. Calhoun, and expressed his sadness on the idea to let the John C. Calhoun  monument continue to reign over Charleston like a “ trophy over a victory.”

Both leaders also discussed their opinions on the word “hate.” Judge Alex Sanders, a professor at the College of Charleston, spoke on a student of his that exclaimed “he didn’t hate anyone.” The audience chuckled, and so did he as he went on to inform everyone, that “not hating anyone” was not an accomplishment. He also stated that, “ no matter what your background is spiritually, the golden rule coincides with all religions…hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is.” Rev. Rivers then quoted Nelson Mandela stating people are, “ born to love and trained to hate…Love has to have a training room. Where do you find that hate?”

The idea of getting to know each other in this city, concluded the discussion. Both leaders shared the same view on, creating friendships with people you don’t know, to get a better insight. Judge Sanders stated, “ We pass like ships in denial because we don’t know each other.”

The conversation then concluded and the program transitioned into a panel in which the audience were able to ask both leaders questions. The topics that they spoke about still remain prevalent in Charleston, and with personal effort this city could make a great change.

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