Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Jim Clyburn will co-host a panel discussion on racial reconciliation at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday evening, joining survivors and family members of victims of the Charleston shooting a year ago.
Scott, South Carolina’s junior Republican Senator and Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, will speak about the bipartisan civil rights pilgrimage they led to South Carolina in March with the Washington-based nonprofit Faith and Politics Institute. They will also remember the nine black parishioners who were killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston by a white supremacist last June, and discuss next steps to move the country towards racial reconciliation.
Two survivors of the Emanuel AME shooting, Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders, will participate in the event.
Four family members of the Charleston shooting victims will join Scott and Clyburn on the panel. Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance, was the first to speak out and forgive the gunman, Dylann Roof, at the bond hearing after the shooting. Melvin Graham, the brother of Cynthia Graham, and Daniel and Alana Simmons, the son and granddaughter of Rev. Daniel Simmons, will also participate.
"This journey is not the end, this is really the beginning of an education for the country on how forgiveness leads to reconciliation," Scott says in a documentary that will be screened at Wednesday evening’s event.
The film about the pilgrimage to South Carolina, produced by the Faith and Politics Institute, features Scott and Clyburn’s reflections on how the state can learn from its history to heal after the tragedy.
“The whole intent here is for people to get a better understanding of what we call the Emanuel Nine, and why they [the families] are able within hours of experiencing such a horrific experience to say 'I forgive you,'" Clyburn says in the documentary.
The March pilgrimage brought together a bipartisan group of 14 members of Congress and 200 seminarians, local leaders and other participants to Columbia, Orangeburg and Charleston to explore South Carolina’s role in the civil rights movement and pay tribute to the victims of the Charleston shooting.
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and dozens of other members of Congress are expected to attend. Two survivors of the shooting, Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders, will also participate in the event.