The National Association of Social Workers, South Carolina Chapter (NASW-SC), extends its heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of the massacre at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
When a hate crime such as this happens in our state, it happens to all of us. Our hearts hurt. Our minds try to fathom what could lead to this atrocity. We struggle to imagine our loss: a great advocate and leader—Senator Clementa Pinckney. A fellow social worker—Reverend Daniel Simmons. Seven other victims, all African American, murdered in God’s house, killed because of racial hate by one of our own citizens.
This act of domestic terrorism did not happen in isolation. The time has come for our nation to address the insidious undercurrent of racism that flows too far and too wide. It flows in the actions of the murderer. It flows on bumper stickers, on websites, and in social media. In South Carolina, it even flows at our place of government.
The time has come for the strongest symbol of that racism—the presence of the Confederate flag in front of our state capitol—to be removed.
NASW-SC is committed to honoring the memory of the lives we lost through our prayers, our thoughts, and our actions. We will vehemently support the bill being introduced which calls for the removal of the Confederate flag. Just as we did for the rally held June 20th, in which 1,500 people protested the flag, we will mobilize membership to attend rallies, to contact legislators, and to write to our governor for its removal. Our advocacy for this cause will not stop nor slacken until this battle is won.
The time has come for our nation to address the insidious undercurrent of racism that flows too far and too wide. It flows in the actions of the murderer. It flows on bumper stickers, on websites, and in social media. In South Carolina, it even flows at our place of government.
And, while the removal of the flag will hold great symbolism, we must not stop there. Our state must tighten its gun laws so that more murders can be prevented. We must pass a hate crime act as a deterrent to acts of violence and terrorism.
As social workers, we must continue our fight to protect and serve the vulnerable citizens that Sen. Pinckney cared about his entire life.
Our chapter’s work to bring federal Affordable Care Act dollars to provide healthcare to the uninsured will continue. Our demands for improvements to the child welfare system are having an impact, but there is much work yet to be done (including expanding this advocacy to vulnerable adults).
Education and advocacy related to the prevention of bullying and ending human trafficking in South Carolina will also remain a focus of our chapter. And we remain strong and determined that the Confederate flag must come down. We are small, but we will have our voices heard.
While we are a state with a troubling history, we are also a state full of good people. We witnessed this at the vigils, prayer meetings, solidarity protests and unity gatherings held throughout South Carolina to honor the victims.
NASW-SC’s members will join with advocates and colleagues as we mourn the loss of Sen. Pinckney, Reverend Daniel Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson in the months to come. Maybe we will find comfort in knowing we will not let these deaths be in vain.
Carla Damron, LISW-CP, Executive Director, NASW-SC