The streets surrounding Emanuel AME shouldn't be named after a racist leader.
Demand that the Charleston City Council rename Calhoun Street to Emanuel 9 Way.
The South Carolina House of Representatives voted, just after 1AM Thursday, to take down the Confederate flag from capitol grounds. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Nikki Haley who has promised to sign it.1 More than 55,000 ColorOfChange members signed Jamarr Brown's petition demanding this tremendous symbolic step. Very soon, South Carolinians will no longer have to live under a flag that represents the violent intimidation of Black people.
While many have called for the removal of the flag for years, it took a profound tragedy and mass outpouring of outrage to get the South Carolina General Assembly to do something they should've done long ago--remove a symbol of hate from state grounds. It is a gesture, no matter how symbolic, of the work we have to do as a country to make sure no congregation and no family has to endure the loss they have to bear.
Show support for Emanuel AME by telling the Charleston City Council to erase racist signs near the church grounds.
As the Confederate flag comes down a hundred miles from Charleston, there are still painful symbols of the white supremacist culture that the killer embraced just a few feet away from the Church. The historic Emanuel AME is located on Calhoun Street, named for the staunch advocate of slavery John C. Calhoun. 2 Calhoun was the champion of the political and philosophical argument behind secession that bred states' rights. As a U.S. Vice President then senator, he didn't just espouse the racist ideology of institutionalizing the dehumanization of Black lives. 3 He was an architect of it.
His name has no place on the street signs surrounding Emanuel AME.
Demand that the Charleston City Council change the name of Calhoun Street to Emanuel 9 Way to memorialize the victims of the June 17th attack.
This is about more than just a street name. Monuments and memorials for supporters of slavery have become so commonplace in our country that the racial violence they represent is normalized. The "heritage" invoked by people who carry the Confederate flag is the same heritage that led Dylann Roof to commit racial violence against innocent churchgoers in prayer. It is a heritage we can trace back to racist figures like Calhoun.
Reverend William Barber, speaking on on how universal racism is, said "The perpetrator has been arrested, but the killer is still at large."When you have racialized political rhetoric and racialized policies, they become the spawning ground, the birthing ground, if you will, for terroristic violence." 4
The rhetoric he was talking about — of states' rights, and "heritage, not hate" — is nothing more than thinly masked support for slavery and violence against Black people.
Will you join us in calling on the Charleston City Council to leave this racist's name in the past where it belongs?
The flag on capitol grounds is the beginning, and there is more work to do. Will you join us in honoring the Emanuel 9 by naming this street in their honor?
Thanks and Peace,
--Rashad, Arisha, Brandi Brittaney, Brandon, Johnny, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
1. "Live: Tracking confederate flag votes in SC legislature," Post and Courier, 07-08-15
2. "Five More Things South Carolina Can Do After Taking Down The Confederate Flag,” The Intercept 06-23-15
3. "The Power of Names," Inside Higher Ed 07-01-15
4. "Perpetrator Has Been Arrested, But Killer is Still at Large’: Calls Rise to Remove Confederate Flag," Democracy Now 06-23-15