Dear America, 
On June 17,2015, a young white supremist walked into Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, SC and killed 9 people because he hated Black people and wanted to start a race war. Nine people were slaughtered and 5 people survived.  I continue to say their names because they gave their lives to a higher purpose and should always be remembered, they are:  Mrs. Ethel Lee Lance, my mother, my two cousins, Mrs. Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders, my childhood friend, Mrs. Myra Thompson, Rev. Clementa Pinkney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman Singelton, Rev. Depayne, Middleton Doctor, Rev. Daniel Simmons, and Mrs. Cynthis Hurd.  I pray every time you hear or see their names, you will be moved to disarm hate.
It was in that same church where my Mother first saw me preach, sitting on the front pew and saying, “Amen, that’s my baby”. He never should have never been able to purchase that gun. But you see, what he didn’t understand, that God was among those in that Bible study that night, what he didn’t understand was that he messed with the wrong people and entered the wrong church, that hot summers’ night. The shooter wanted to start a race war, but God’s grace and mercy kept us, I believe God saw fit to turn that devastation, into triumph, by exposing the hate that invades so many hearts and minds in this country.  God said, you will not destroy my people, nor my Church because of your wicked ways.
The shooter was prohibited from buying a gun and should have been stopped in his tracks, but because of the NRA, backed strong-hold,  this bill has been blocked, that loophole allows a gun sale to go forward when a background check takes longer than three business days, he was able to buy one anyway. The rest is tragic history, and the loophole in the law is now named the “Charleston Loophole” after my hometown.  The time has come for all of us likeminded people to “rise up and do what it takes to make gun violence and any kind of violence against our brothers and sisters, no matter who they are to cease.  We people of faith, hold strong to what the prophet Isaiah 40:31 says, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 
That’s why I fight and advocate for common sense gun laws against hate and racism, that’s why I won’t shut-up: to keep my mom’s memory and the 8 others alive, to keep pushing forward like she always did, and to do my part to disarm hate while protestors across the country march to stamp it out. All I can hope for is that some of you will join me in this fight, and that my mom is looking down on me now, saying what she said that first time she saw me preach: “Amen, that’s my baby.” 
Reverend Sharon Risher