Adult survivors of Mother Emmanuel AME Church massacre to lead Unity Walk

| October 11, 2016

Emanuel AME Church shooting survivors Felicia Sanders (left) and Polly Sheppard. [PHOTO COURTESY]

Emanuel AME Church shooting survivors Felicia Sanders (left) and Polly Sheppard. [PHOTO COURTESY]

FORT WAYNE—A Bible study 15 months ago in Charleston, S.C., ultimately became one of the most horrific acts in American history.

Nine individuals, ranging in age from 26 to 87 years of age, were murdered in the basement of Mother Emmanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015. The two adult survivors, Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders, are scheduled to be in Fort Wayne to lead a unity walk at 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23.

Deemed “The Fort Wayne-Love Train,” the one-mile walk is designed to improve community relations and lay the foundation for increased interracial and bipartisan cooperation across the region.

The walk is being organized by the Rev. Bill McGill, pastor of Imani Baptist Temple, who said “If these women can make a determined effort to reject the bait of hate, then certainly we can engage in every effort that seeks to keep that emotion from gaining dominance within our city gate. Hopefully, as we walk and share a mile we can also share a smile.”

Mrs. Sheppard is a trustee at the church and has repeatedly said, “As a Christian I am commanded to forgive but I choose to love.” Mrs. Sanders is an usher at the church and lost both a son, Tywanza, and an aunt, Susie Jackson, who ironically represented the youngest and oldest victims of the massacre. At the alleged shooters arraignment, she said, “Every fiber in my body hurts but may God have mercy on you.”

In an unusual sign of solidarity, the chairs of both Allen County political parties have endorsed the walk and plan to actively promote it to their members. Additionally, leaders of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Pastors of Fort Wayne, Associated Churches and the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne have all signed on as co-sponsors. The walk will commence from Elizabeth Street and Clinton—just north of Science Central—and proceed south over the Martin Luther King Memorial Bridge to Freimann Square.

There will be a brief rally of songs, poetry, and remarks by these courageous women.

People unable to walk are encouraged to stand along both sides of the MLK Bridge as a sign of solidarity and support for unity

For additional information, contact the Rev. Bill McGill at (260) 410-3430.

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Category: Community, Events, Local, National, Spiritual Matters

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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