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What can Buffalo learn from Charleston's experiences since the attack at Mother Emanuel AME?

The churchyard at Circular Congregational Church
Tom Berich
Congregants from Circular Congregational Church in Charleston, SC spoke with WBFO in the churchyard after service
A plaque of remembrance on the wall of Mother Emanuel AME Church for the 9 people killed there in June 2015
Tom Berich
A plaque of remembrance on the wall of Mother Emanuel AME Church for the 9 people killed there in June 2015

Almost a year on from the racist massacre at the Tops Grocery store in Buffalo, WBFO is exploring ties with Charleston, S.C., a community that also suffered a racist attack. There, in June 2015, a white supremacist gunman entered Mother Emanuel AME Church and killed nine African Americans. We examine if there is anything Buffalo can learn from Charleston’s journey toward hope, healing and reconciliation in the years since.

WBFO journalists Thomas O’Neil-White and Holly Kirkpatrick joined two separate churches in downtown Charleston at Sunday service, to find out what worshipers think. Thomas hears from congregants at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the racist attack took place eight years ago. While less than a mile away, Holly speaks with church-goers at Circular Congregational Church, a majority white congregation.

Listen to what Charlestonians had to say, by pressing 'listen.'

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
Holly Kirkpatrick is a journalist whose work includes investigations, data journalism, and feature stories that hold those in power accountable. She joined WBFO in December 2022.