First Funerals Held For Charleston, S.C., Church Shooting Victims
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
In Charleston, S.C., the first funeral after last week's church massacre was held today. It was for Ethel Lance. She was 70 years old, a mother of five, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of four. NPR's Wade Goodwyn was at the funeral service.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: It was a lovely scene as hundreds of people filed into Royal Missionary Baptist Church which hosted Ethel Lance's funeral service in an ironic reversal of historic segregation. Most of the black mourners filled the downstairs while most of the white mourners sat in the balcony. As the service began and the casket was closed, one of Ethel's daughters cried out, I'll see you in morning
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: I'll see you in the morning.
GOODWYN: With that, many in the sanctuary began to weep.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Oh, I'll see you in the morning.
GOODWYN: Lance's grandchildren spoke first with remarkable composure, Brandon Risher said his grandmother would never have wanted to be associated with hate, that she had become so close to God, it was an emotion she was incapable of.
BRANDON RISHER: She is to represent something that we all know is there, which is hate, right? She was a victim of hate. But she can be a symbol for love. That's what she was.
GOODWYN: The service was attended by Governor Nikki Haley, Charleston mayor, Joseph Riley, as well as the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Elder Norvel Goff is the acting pastor of Emanuel AME Church.
NORVEL GOFF: I served as Mrs. Lance's spiritual leader. I took a lot of photographs in my mind and my heart. She will live because these photographs are just beautiful.
GOODWYN: While the words spoken in Lance's memory inspired, it was the gospel music that transcended.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: (Singing) How great thou art.
UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) How great thou art. How great thou art.
GOODWYN: The vile, racist hatred that took Ethel Lance's life was exorcised this afternoon by wave after wave of music and prayer until all that was left was sadness and love.
UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) When we've been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun...
GOODWYN: Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Charleston.
UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we've first begun.
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