Nine black lives were lost this summer at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina when a self-professed racist gunman shot them during a Bible study. The members of the church and the families of the victims started the healing process when they forgave the shooter through the love of Jesus. The selflessness of the people was not appreciated by all, however. In fact, it made many activists mad as they called for vengeance instead of forgiveness. Yet, the parishioners and family members held strong and stood by their message of peace, forgiveness, and improved relations between races across the country. The two approaches show that there is still much work left to be done.
According to EurWeb, “A special program on race relations produced by A&E Networks and iHeartMedia called, “Shining Light: A Concert for Progress on Race In America” will air Nov. 20 at 8 pm. According to an official statement from A&E, the purpose of the event is “to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity, inspired by the response of the Mother Emanuel family members in Charleston and others working for reconciliation and change around the country”
One intriguing performance that will be shown during the program will be pre-recorded at Emanuel AME and is for members only. The special performance is by pop icon and “The Voice” coach Pharrell Williams. Williams will perform live at the church during a Sunday service.
The rest of the program, a two-hour event, will take place and be filmed live on Nov. 18 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. It “will include performances by multiple artists, including the Zac Brown Band, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Pink and Bruce Springsteen.” When the concert is done, there will be a one-hour post-concert special entitled, ” Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America”. The special will match superstar artists with “a diverse group of residents from Charleston, Baltimore, Chicago and Ferguson.”
The conversations the community members will have with stars like Pharrell Williams and John Legend are designed to bring diverse perspectives to the American people in a format that they just might listen to. According to an official statement, the community groups represented include “family members of victims, community leaders, law enforcement officials, clergy and organizations seeking to empower communities by fostering understanding, eliminating bias and addressing inequities that break along racial lines.”
According to USA Today, none of the superstars are making money off this tragedy. “All proceeds will go to the “Fund for Progress on Race in America”, which will support Mother Emanuel AME Church and the general AME denomination as well as individual and community groups tackling racism through public policy initiatives and community mobilization.”