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Charlotte Marchers Remember Emanuel AME Shooting Victims

Hundreds of people gathered in Charlotte Wednesday evening during the third week of protests in the city.


An event called the Black Men United March and Rally was organized by local leaders including Charlotte city council member Malcolm Graham, whose sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, was one of nine black people killed by a white supremacist five years ago during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.


“I stand before you today as a brother. Not as a council member, not as a former state senator, but as a brother,” Graham told a crowd in Marshall Park.


Derrick Davis said he attended the event to connect with other black men in Charlotte.


“It’s good to have that fellowship, that camaraderie. And it’s good to know you’re not alone,” Davis said. “It’s so much heavy s*** going on that if we don’t come together, who else is going to be there for us?”


The group listened to a handful of speakers before marching from the park chanting “Black Men Matter” and “Say Her Name: Cynthia Graham.”


Marchers paused for nine minutes at the black lives matter mural on Tryon Street in Charlotte. 6/17/20
Credit Michael Falero / WFAE
Marchers paused for nine minutes at the black lives matter mural on Tryon Street in Charlotte.

After marching to the Black Lives Matter mural on South Tryon Street, the group paused to kneel and observe nearly nine minutes of silence to honor George Floyd,who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.


Later, a smaller group of protesters marched around uptown during an event organized by Million Youth March of Charlotte and Salisbury. Caleb Holmes carried a small whiteboard with the names of the Emanuel AME Church shooting victims. Holmes said his friend’s mother was killed in that shooting.


“After the George Floyd situation, I told myself enough is really enough. I want to do more for my community while I’m here,” he said, adding that he has joined in for nearly every night of the Charlotte protests.


Walter Wright and Reggie Adkins said they have participated in around 14 of the local marches. Wright always carries a large flag reading “Black Lives Matter” and Adkins a green, red and black Pan African flag.


“We’re just asking to be equal," Wright said. "It’s going to be uncomfortable. Change doesn’t happen when you’re not uncomfortable."


Adkins said he leaves each protest “feeling energized” and “encouraged to keep moving.”


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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.
Michael Falero is a radio reporter, currently covering voting and the 2020 election. He previously covered environment and energy for WFAE. Before joining WFAE in 2019, Michael worked as a producer for a number of local news podcasts based in Charlotte and Boston. He's a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop intensive on Cape Cod and UNC Chapel Hill.