Love Is Stronger Than Hate

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Photo by Stephen Morton. Front photo by David Goldman/AP.

Proclaiming "Nine lives, one love," Charleston has responded to the racist murders of nine of its own with a series of extraordinary acts of grace, hope and solidarity. The first was the stunning spectacle of victims' weeping families coming forward at the bond hearing for Dylann Roof to offer forgiveness to the hollow-eyed racist standing before them via video screen. "You took something very precious away from me," said the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance. "But I forgive you and may God have mercy on your soul."

Sunday morning, about 1,200 worshipers of Emanuel AME Church, fondly known as Mother Emanuel, gathered in  faith and community to pray, sing, grieve and declare, "We are bent but not broken." "The doors of the church are open," said the Rev. Norvel Goff during an emotional service. "No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God's church." That night, further proof of Charleston's strength came to Ravenel Bridge, named for a Confederate hero, in the form of a Unity Chain and Bridge to Peace. Organizers had said they hoped for 3,000 people, enough to meet in the middle of the two-and-a-half mile span. But up to 20,000 turned out to vow, "Hate won't win." Joining hands, they shared nine moments of silence - for Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Depayne Doctor, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Daniel L. Simmons, Susie Jackson. Then, they sang "Amazing Grace." Which it was.

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On the bridge

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