On June 17, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church—an iconic Black church in South Carolina—fell prey to a horrific hate crime. A bible study group was attacked, nine people were killed—including Clementa Pinckney, a pastor and State Senator, and only one shooting victim survived.
In the aftermath of this tragic and devastating shooting, and within the span of 10 days, five Black Southern churches were set ablaze in Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina. These churches were either damaged or completely destroyed by these fires. Thus far, three of those fires have been confirmed to be set by arsonists. The police have referred to one of the incidents—at College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee—as an act of vandalism due to the difficulty and inability to interpret a motive.
A group of young Muslims came together after the attacks and created a crowd-funding campaign to raise money to help rebuild the churches affected by these tragedies.
Faatimah Knight, a 23-year-old theology student, started a LaunchGood Campaign in order to initially raise $10,000. However, when the goal was met and surpassed within the first 12 hours of the campaign, they set the new target at $50,000—which was also met soon after. Currently, with four days left in the campaign, the groups have managed to raise over $77,000 of their new $100,000 goal.
As the LaunchGood Campaign page states, “these kinds of attacks on Black churches are a very old form of intimidation in the South, historically used to strike fear into the hearts of Black people.”
However, out of this blatant act of destruction, this fundraiser emerged, which not only signified solidarity but also served as an impeccable reminder of humanity.
The fundraising campaign has so far, touched the hearts of thousands. Muslim-American scholar, Imam Zaid Shakir, stated on the campaign’s page that “the American-Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African Americans. We do, however, understand the climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country.”
These acts of violence and fear have, in turn, inspired comradery, strength and community.
This campaign aimed to bridge the divide that race, color, and religion often cause. It has been an inspirational example of what humanity and compassion look like, and it is commendable that this effort took place amidst the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time when charity is given great importance.
This campaign has been a strong reflection of solidarity against ongoing systemic oppressions and violence that, if left unchallenged, would threaten this form of unity.