Community tributes and memorials from Mother Emanuel tragedy to get home for public display

The cards, quilts and other memorials left after the hate-driven shooting that took the lives of nine worshippers will be saved at a property the church is aquiring

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

After the 2015 mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., people left thousands of heartfelt mementos and sentimental cards and artwork in response. Those items will now become part of the bedrock of the grieving community, the Post and Courier reports.

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The Charleston City Council recently voted to buy a home located across the street from the church. The home will be transformed into a gallery to display the 6,000 tributes, including artwork and quilts, left from people all over the world who wanted to show their support for the victims and band together in grief against hate-motivated shooting.

Nine church members were gunned down June 17, 2015 at the historic church by white supremacist Dylan Roof

“We are excited for the opportunities to display,” said Rev. Dr. Eric Manning, the church’s pastor. “We thank God for his favor and the city for sharing with us.”

Because of the City Council vote, Mother Emanuel can purchase the property for $100. However, the deal is not expected to close for several years.

Right now the house holds the offices for the planned International African-American Museum. It’s also home to the Hon. Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation, named for the pastor who was killed in the tragedy.

Once the lease expires sometime in 2021, the Foundation will then purchase the home, the Rev. Manning said.

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Manning sees the site as a welcomed compliment to the planned memorial courtyard.

Earlier this year, designs were revealed for a memorial that will be erected in honor of the nine victims and five survivors of the shooting.

The design will be centered on a marble fountain which will have the names of the nine victims of the racist attack etched on it.

There will be stone benches made of white marble placed on each side of the fountain, that will be taller than visitors and stand as a symbol for sheltering wings, according to a news release. And a pathway will lead to a prayer garden.

The memorial will also explore the suffering and the resilience of the historic church.

The memorial will be built on an asphalt lot where racist Roof parked his car before joining the church’s Bible study session, subsequently launching a lethal attack. 

The survivors’ garden will be surrounded by marble benches—one for each of the three women and two children who escaped the massacre (Pastor Pinckney’s widow, Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney, and one of their daughters; Tywanza Sanders’ mother, Felicia Sanders, and her young granddaughter; and Polly Sheppard).

There will also reportedly be a sixth survivor’s bench erected to represent Mother Emanuel itself.