PHILADELPHIA ― Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard, two of the three people who survived a shooting at the Mother Emanuel Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, last year, made an impassioned call for love and racial unity on Wednesday.
Dylann Roof is accused of killing nine people inside the church in June 2015, including Sanders’ son, 26-year-old Tywanza. Sanders called her fallen son her hero before explaining why she forgave Roof.
“Hate destroys those who harbor it,” she said on stage at the Democratic National Convention. “I refuse to let hate destroy me.”
She also referenced the “Charleston loophole,” a flaw in the FBI’s system that allowed Roof to legally purchase a firearm before his background check had been completed.
“After that fateful day, Hillary Clinton called on lawmakers to close the Charleston loophole,” Sanders said.
“No one should feel what I’ve seen. No one should feel how we feel, how we suffered,” she continued. “The Bible tells us that if we humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wicked ways, God will forgive us and heal our land. Let us heed God’s word and, in turn, may God heal our nation.”
Sheppard presented a message about healing and forgiveness before explaining why she stands behind Clinton.
“Hillary was in South Carolina the day before the shooting and in the days that followed,” Sheppard said. “She talked about the hatred in our nation, the racism, the injustice. She said that we can’t hide from these truths. She called on us to name them and own them and change them.”
“Together, we can fight for that change,” she added. “Together, we can heal. Together, we can love.”