The Charleston International Airport has opened an exhibit in remembrance of the nine parishioners killed and five others wounded during bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
In the airport’s Central Hall, two five-foot-high stained glass panes separated by a glass partition show the church with nine white doves and a cross. Encased in glass in the center of the exhibit, lay a Bible open to Mark 4:13-20, the very passage of scripture that the bible study group was reading when white supremacist Dylann Roof began his massacre. A closed bible belonging to Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the shooting, is placed beside it.
The airport said in a statement the exhibit provides “a place for reflection and contemplation” for millions of people who walk through the airport.
“Our airport is the most used public building in our community,” said Henry Fishburne, a member of the Charleston County Aviation Authority Board. “The Aviation Authority Board and staff believe this tribute is fitting because the attack on the church and its worshippers was also an attack on our whole community.”
The tribute was dedicated in a private ceremony for families of the victims and the survivors on Saturday.
“This will be a solemn space and serves to honor those whose lives were taken, those who survived and their families,” said Margaret Seidler, a member of the Aviation Authority Board and organizer of the project. “It also reminds our citizens and visitors about the Charleston response – the peace, community spirit and unity displayed in the aftermath of the June 17, 2015, tragedy.”
Photographs of the community reaction following the tragedy line the wall, hanging under the words, ‘Charleston Strong,’
There’s also the canvas, ‘White Breeze’, an oil painting by South Carolina artist Jonathan Green. Green donated the piece in remembrance.
“This painting is unique symbolically as it has seven black birds flying in the background and there are two shadow images of birds on the foreground reflected in the sheets for a total of nine bird images,” Green said.
The tribute was put together by the Charleston County Aviation Authority Board, with the design donated by Mead & Hunt.