The “Emanuel Nine,” of blessed and eternal memory, were nine deeply gifted, loving, and faithful people who spent their lives striving for excellence, connection, and the presence of God, and their last moments in the study of the Word. They leave a legacy of grace, resistance, family, and faith.
The youngest of the lives taken, Tywanza Sanders was a recent grad of Allen University, working as a barber while he prepared for his upcoming entry into Graduate School.
A poet, writer, lyricist, musician, and budding media journalist, Sanders died protecting his Great Aunt Susie Jackson.
Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a coach, teacher, minister and a single mother of three, all while pursuing her doctorate.
She served as a speech pathologist and therapist as well as head coach of the girls track team at Goose Creek High School, as well as serving as an assistant pastor at Mother Emanuel.
She is remembered as the woman who “could do it all.”
The “heart of her family” who led her family through tragic loses, Ethel Lee Lance was the church sexton and a lifetime member of Mother Emanuel.
As a 30 year custodian of Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, she was witness to celebrities and yet remained the model of discretion. She was known for her love of dancing, perfume, Etta James, and the stalwart support of her children and grandchildren.
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, was a long time Baptist minister who had just returned AME, the denomination of her youth. Known as a firery preacher in the pulpit and as an alto songbird with a heavenly voice, the single mother of four daughters was facing an upswing in her life.
She had just found a new faith home she loved, and a new job she loved.
At age 74, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr. had served thousands of parishioners over 30 years of ministry in 8 different churches, in addition to serving his country in the US Army and the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Remembered as a teacher, confidant, road trip companion, and mentor, he had been coaching Myra Thompson on leading the Bible study that night.
Cynthia Hurd fostered a lifelong love of learning, which led her to serve the Charleston Public Library for 31 years.
She was also a devoted sister and tireless public servant, who advocated for low-income housing as a member of the housing authority for over 20 years. Mrs. Hurd is remembered through the renaming of her library branch, and through the establishment of a scholarship fund in her honor.
The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney was an accomplished and beloved Pastor and statesman, serving in the South Carolina state senate as well as Pastor of the historic “Mother Emanuel” AME Church.
Known for his booming but calming baritone voice and patient demeanor, as well as his deep love of living out his faith in the advocacy of social justice, he left a legacy that cannot be measured.