The dangers of a short memory in recognizing — and fighting — hate

June 17, 2015.

Though it wasn’t that long ago, far too many Americans only dimly recall what happened on that date, when a racist murderer sat down to pray with parishioners at the historically Black Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., then pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and started shooting. He killed nine people who had welcomed him and did it without — not then nor in the years since — a shred of remorse.

Maybe some have had memories tweaked with the recent news that the Justice Department has agreed to pay the victims’ families and the survivors $88 million to compensate for a background check failure.

But those families needed no reminder and would give anything to have their loved ones back on this earth.

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Graham Hurd, the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, the Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson — they were caring community leaders and so much more than names scrolling across the bottom of a TV screen, as Hurd’s younger brother Malcolm Graham said in a 2015 Washington Post column about his sister.

She was a librarian, who surely would have helped high school dropout Dylann Roof with his educational challenges. Instead, the white supremacist, schooled by online bile, turned to violence toward African Americans. That I mention Hurd is no coincidence. I did not know her well, but we had met. And I do know her brother Malcolm, a former North Carolina state senator and current Charlotte city council member, who established the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Reading and Civic Engagement to continue her work and legacy.

Does it take a connection for Americans to feel?

‘The flag would still be flying today’

Six years ago, Malcolm Graham lost his big sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, in the Charleston shooting that took nine Black churchgoers’ lives. Now a city councilman in Charlotte, N.C., Graham reflects on the work he did to remove the Confederate flag from its prominent place on the South Carolina statehouse grounds, the future of racial matters in our country and his sister’s legacy.

‘There are no degrees of separation’ — How the Charleston church shooting looms over the current racial justice debate

It’s been five years since the deadly, racist-motivated shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina But the scars are still present in the current debate over racial justice, Black Lives Matter and the legacy of white supremacist ideology.

CQ Roll Call columnist Mary C. Curtis talks to Political Theater about how the tragedy in Charleston still resonates as the United States grapples with its ugly history.