NASW South Carolina Statement on shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

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



  1. I see a gradual deterioration and pattern of destruction of our nation. The very fabric our founding fathers wove together to sustain this country is being snipped thread by thread at a high rate. With each little snip, there is the threat of total collapse. Our forefathers were spiritual and had faith, they believed in family and working hard and earning an honest living. Children acted like children and were raised like children. Adults were responsible and believed in work, church and discipline. I was raised by my great grandmother and she kept us in line, and working with and for our community. Some of the things I see young people doing (crime), wearing (next to nothing–girls!) and saying (profanity and disrespect to elders) today disgust me. There is a critical need to save our nation. It begins with our children. They are the future. They will have to carry on long after we are gone generation after generation. Let’s not set them up for failure people! Let’s support our parents who have young children and encourage them to do their best, be an example, value education, and acknowledge our Creator as the author and the finisher of our faith, Alpha and Omega!

  2. Legal battles can be long and arduous . Racism is rooted in political and economical roots that has been here to long. Medicaif fraud medical malpractice and down right rape and murder . Are all Innate factor that need to be self evaluated by us all . When it raises it’s ugly head we all recognize it but our self interest seem to dictate it’s own action. With out our own focus own what true characterhealth is . We will continue to go down a dark path, there must be stronger checks and balances put into to play, to deter a harm to self and to others. We all will continue to be sick if laws continue to not restrain offenders.. Human if left without laws that will provide action is useless . The law should be for everyone. Thus the law today punish the victim quickly but is reluctant to punish the special interest groups. Power corrupt absolute power absolutely corrupts. I don’t know the answer but I was discipline to hate sin. The law should not only be for the voiceless. But it should also balance and protect the wealthy from himself. And his human self interest nature. Without stronger laws and control we will continue to have anomy .

  3. Thank you, Ms. Damron, for your heartfelt position statement on the recent tragic shootings in Charleston. Katie Pavlich just posted on an article reporting South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, Senator Lindsey Graham, RNC Chair Reince Preibus, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, all support the removal of the Confederate Flag.

    What makes a racist, a racist? How does one become such? Has NASW sponsored any quantitative research into the root causes of racism? If so, what recommendations for practice has resulted from this research? Identifying racism is the first step….then what? NASW’s Standards for Cultural Competency is a good reference guide for Social Workers….let’s build from there.

    I am also concerned the shooter chose to sit with his victims in Bible study for an hour before shooting them. He had previous contact with this church before being welcomed by its members. Why did he choose a church to shoot caring, welcoming Christians? Pure hate? Pure evil? Targeted victims who happened to gather in the same place every week?
    The families and loved ones of the shooting victims have my tears, my heart and my prayers for healing.

  4. Thank you for publicly and professionally recognizing the work we have to do to make our state a better place for many who have suffered long enough!

  5. Bravo South Carolina’s NASW. Makes me very proud to be a social worker

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