Victims of Charleston massacre mourned

Updated: 2015-06-26 10:22


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Victims of Charleston massacre mourned

Pallbearers carry the casket of Ethel Lance past Reverend Al Sharpton (R) following her funeral services at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South, Carolina, June 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - South Carolina took a small step toward healing the wounds of last week's massacre at a historic black church in Charleston as mourners gathered for the funerals of two of the nine victims, and a wake for the slain pastor.

Thursday's services for Ethel Lance, 70, and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, come days after some of the families of the slain black churchgoers offered unqualified forgiveness for the young white man accused of their murders.

The power and grace of their words at the first court appearance for the suspect have sparked an intense dialogue across the US South over the legacy of slavery and its symbols, centering on the Civil War-era battle flag of the Confederacy.

At Lance's funeral, her oldest grandson alluded to that theme. "She was a victim of hate. She can be a symbol of love as she was in life. Hate is powerful but love is more powerful," Brandon Risher told the congregation.

Funerals for the other seven victims, including services for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the attack took place, are scheduled in the coming days. President Barack Obama will deliver Pinckney's eulogy on Friday.

Several thousand turned out on Thursday evening for Pinckney's wake at the church, including some who drove from as far away as Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. The line of mourners stretched for three blocks, including more than 200 of his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers in dark suits and black and gold ties, as well as politicians and members of the public, both black and white.

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