LANHAM – In light of the recent massacre of nine people at a church in South Carolina, the local community and local NAACP chapter agreed: race remains a problem in America. The Prince George’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conducted a meeting Thursday night meeting at Jubilee United Church […]
LANHAM – In light of the recent massacre of nine people at a church in South Carolina, the local community and local NAACP chapter agreed: race remains a problem in America.
The Prince George’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conducted a meeting Thursday night meeting at Jubilee United Church of Christ, encouraging attendees to talk about their feelings about the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina, where 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly opened fire on a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killing nine people.
The investigation in Charleston remains ongoing. However, police in North Carolina took Roof into custody Thursday morning and charged him with nine counts of murder early Friday morning.
Bob Ross, president of the local NAACP chapter, said he organized the meeting at the church because he thought people needed an opportunity to grieve and discuss the future of the organization.
“There’s a lot of anger in the community, a lot of disappointment,” Ross said. “Some people feel like race relationship is going in the reverse, so we having that to deal with. As an organization we have to keep the calm in the community so that’s where we’re trying to do.”
“Tonight this is really an opportunity to allow people from the community to come and we’ll be the religious community, the faith community to lament, to just release their frustrations, their anger, their sadness about just continual stories emerging in our society about violence,” said Rev. Marvin Silver, pastor of the Jubliee UCC, which has hosted the NAACP’s meetings since February.
Despite rain and traffic, about 30 people attended the event. Some participants expressed sadness while others shared feelings of anger, but most expressed frustration with how little progress the United States has made in eradicating racism.
“We can’t deny that what happened in South Carolina is an act of racist terrorism,” Silver said. “I think some of the next steps we can take, and this is to my brothers and sisters in the white community, they need to own their racism, their biases, their behaviors, their white privilege and not to try to gloss this up under the table, but to recognize that racism is still present in this ‘colorblind’ society we live in. So I think its time for us to really have a conversation about these issues”
Ross said he hopes the anger the community feels will foster more participation in the association and encourage local leaders to really look into racial issues.
“We tell the community to grieve if they have to grieve, vidanger if they have to vidanger, but this is a time where families, and community is family, you come together, and you go through this together and your pray through it together and hopefully that will be enough to carry us through until our legislatures do what they have to do and its time for them to start doing what they have to do,” he said. “Hopefully the community will get involved a little bit more and support the organizations that are out there fighting on the frontline for the struggle and the question everyone is asking ‘is the NAACP still relevant’ here’s the day that we say ‘yes it’s still relevant’”
During the meeting Rev. Valarie Holmes said she has become tired of the violence and finds herself continually getting upset by the tragedies and stories of racial violence in the country.
“The question that comes to mind for me, as a member of the NAACP, as a member of the African American race, as a member of humanity and a member and person who cares about people, what do you do when you can’t legislate love? How’s a people to respond to hate,” she said. “In a church the first thing anyone is going to do is run to forgiveness. I’m not ready to race there yet. Give me time to lament and be angry because it’s in my anger, in my tears of lamenting, that perhaps we as a community can come up with some ideas, ideas that are going to stop them from killing us no, but ideas that will perhaps help us live better in a country, in a system that we were never designed to be a part of.”
In a statement, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III offered his condolences to those affected by the killings.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims, members of Emanuel AME Church and the entire AME denomination, along with the residents of Charleston as they grapple with this awful tragedy,” Baker said. “This appears to an act of pure hatred that makes us angry and causes us to ask the question—why?”
Baker also said he knew one of the victims—former South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney.
“Hearing that (Pinckney) was one of the victims was a jolt for me,” Baker said. “I pray that his family and friends will rely on their faith to sustain them now and in the coming days and months as they bear the burden of this horrible situation.”