September 28, 2018

Mother Emanuel Tragedy: Where Do We Go from Here?

Tommy Preston, Jr.

On the evening of June 17, 2015, Mother Emanuel African AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, held its regular Wednesday night Bible study. One of the largest and oldest black congregations in the South, the church's roots reach back to 1816. During the Bible study, a young, white male, Dylann Roof, participates in the ceremony for more than an hour before pulling out a handgun and killing nine parishioners. Victims included State Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Reverend Sharonda Singleton, retired Pastor Dr. Daniel Simmons, Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, and Tywanza Sanders.

Eighteen months later, Roof was found guilty of 33 counts of federal hate crimes and eventually sentenced to the death penalty. In the aftermath of the shooting, Mother Emanuel has received an overwhelming outpouring of support, and there have been many efforts to facilitate deeper community conversations around race, most notably, the Charleston Forum.

On Saturday, October 27th at the YLD and GPSolo Fall Conference, attendees will participate in a powerful plenary session that delves into the 2015 shooting and its aftermath. Speakers include Jennifer Pinckney, one of the survivors of the tragedy and widow of the church’s pastor, as well as current Mother Emanuel Pastor Eric Manning. US Court of Appeals Judge and former Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson and former ABA President William Hubbard will talk about the federal hate-crime trial that eventually led to the conviction of the murderer and other policy issues resulting from the tragedy. Additionally, former Governor Nikki Haley, Chief of Staff James Burns, International African American Museum President Michael Moore, and Charleston attorney Brian Duffy discuss the impact of the shooting on the Charleston community, South Carolina, and the nation.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to participate in an open discussion on race in America and what lawyers can do to build a more loving and inclusive society.

The 2018 YLD and GPSolo Fall Conference will take place in Charleston, South Carolina, October 25–27. Register now!


Tommy Preston, Jr.

Tommy Preston, Jr. is chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division and helps oversee policy and regulatory efforts for the Boeing Company in South Carolina.