By Paul E. Gable
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love South Carolina.
I love the fact that in a matter of a few hours I can be in the mountains or along the coast and never have to leave the state.
Great football is divided by only a few hours, and there is arguably no greater scenery anywhere with pink azaleas, Angel Oak trees blowing in a cool breeze, and yes, of course, the Palmetto trees and a crescent moon setting.
South Carolina is Charleston, the Grand Strand, Columbia and Greenville.
It’s where my family has called home since 1983, where I lost my mother to cancer and where I graduated from college, met my wife and got my first start in journalism.
It’s home to the Loris Bog-Off Festival, the Irmo Okra Strut, and the Prosperity’s Hoppin’ Fest.
It’s the home of Due West, Green Sea, Fair Play, Ketchuptown, Ninety Six and Wide Awake.
In case you haven’t figured it out, South Carolina is the home to many amazing things.
Sadly, as we learned this week, it is also home to the “elephant in the room” — racism that exists in a state that I have not seen anywhere else I’ve lived.
My wife told me the news of a shooting at a historic African-American church and the first thing that I uttered was, “I’m not surprised.”
Before we go any further, let’s be honest with each other — South Carolina HAS ALWAYS struggled with the fact that African-Americans reside in the state and are no longer property of the well to do.
This isn’t the 1930s Ku Klux Klan run South Carolina or even the 1940s Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrat Party South Carolina.
Police officers haven’t turned their dogs loose on innocent people in decades and African-Americans haven’t been met with fire hoses in decades.
The Orangeburg Massacre was something we’d see in a history book and not have to relive.
Or so we thought.
Those black and white pictures and “ancient history” came rushing back to the forefront this week in Charleston, South Carolina — a place that takes pride in the fact that the first shots of the Civil War were sounded there and that Africans were once bought and traded in the Market.
Not since the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham has there been such an act of terrorism against African-Americans in a church setting.
Nine people. Shot to death. In a church. Because they were black. In 2015.
(Paul E. Gable is a graduate of Loris High School and Newberry College. He is the editor of the Shelbyville News, Shelbyville, Indiana.)