The Crusader Newspaper Group

Design for Charleston attack memorial draws on pain, strength and forgiveness

Three years after a racist blood bath in its fellowship hall — and 200 years after its defiant founding as one of the South’s first black congregations — Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., unveiled designs on Sunday for a contemplative memorial to the nine victims and five survivors of the horrific attack.

As envisioned by the architect Michael Arad, who also designed the National September 11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan, sections of the church’s parking lot would be transformed into two meditative spaces, one a stone memorial courtyard, the other a grassy survivors’ garden. Together they would speak to the suffering and resilience of a church that has outlasted two centuries of persecution through its practice of faith and forgiveness.

The focal point of the memorial is a pair of sleekly curving high-backed pews, carved of white marble, that would welcome visitors from Calhoun Street like outstretched arms. Some congregants have seen in them a pair of angels’ wings, or even the hull of a slave ship.


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