A Colorado state senator just couldn't sleep in the hours after nine people were fatally shot Wednesday night at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, so he penned a letter he said "every white person" should write.
After completing it, State Sen. Mike Johnston, a Democrat who represents Denver, got out of bed, drove over to his local African Methodist Episcopal church and taped it onto the church’s front door. He also posted it on his Facebook page.
"I refuse to let one deranged man speak for me," Johnston wrote in a letter to Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church in Denver. "I drove here to reaffirm the supremacy of love, and to stand with millions of other white men who are proud to call you brothers and sisters and who feel compelled now to right the wrongs of generations past.”
Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal's pastor, the Rev. Timothy Tyler, also couldn't sleep that night. He saw the note on Facebook and drove over the church to open the letter.
"Thought I was going to sleep until my state senator left this note on Facebook. Still in tears," he wrote. "Thank you Senator."
Rev. Tyler wasn't the only one inspired by the gesture. It took off on social media.
Emily Freitag, like Johnston, felt that she needed to pay it forward. She said it was high time for a change of heart among those still holding onto racist sentiments and pledged her service "to show that love can drive out hate."
Johnston hopes these small acts of love with the hashtag #onlylovecandothat might just make a difference.
"By Sunday morning America could blanket these churches with such overwhelming expressions of love that no one could walk through the doors of an AME church without feeling a flood of love and support from white men whose names they don’t know, whose faces they can’t place, but whose love they can’t ignore," he said.