Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley and Rev. Norvell Goff announced inside Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday that a group of anonymous donors had raised more than $3 million towards a scholarship fund for children in the church and greater communities.
The endowment, called the Reverend Pinckney Scholarship Fund, was created to honor Senator Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine victims of a fatal shooting inside the church during a weekly bible study on June 17.
"It is so appropriate to have a scholarship fund in the name of Reverend Pinckney as he highly valued education," Rev. Goff said in a statement from the mayor's office. "It is our hope that the recipients of this gift will value education themselves further along in life."
BuzzFeed News received a statement from the group through the mayor's office.
"We do not pretend to understand the pain caused by this unimaginable tragedy. We simply want members of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community to know that the burdens of perseverance and empathy, which they have demonstrated with such dignity, do not fall exclusively on their shoulders. We want them to know that others, most of whom do not share their race or religion, who do not come from South Carolina, abhor the injustices from which they have suffered and admire the ways the African-American community has enriched our nation. We honor Reverend Pinckney who so profoundly embodied the values that bind us together as Americans."
"We welcome this tremendous gift on behalf of the people of Charleston, and officers and ministers of Mother Emanuel," said Rev. Goff, who is the presiding elder of the Edisto District of the State Conference of the AME Church.
He added that the money would "fertilize the minds of young people," and that the religious community was "here to support this kind of effort."
Mayor Riley explained that he is currently working with various individuals and organizations to form a committee, which will settle the details on how the money will be allocated, and to whom.
So far, this includes himself and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., but Rev. Goff emphasized that members of Emanuel AME church would be "represented at the table."
Mayor Riley pointed out that while the scholarships will be open to students in the Emanuel AME Church and "extended community," there will be a special focus on the children of the victims of the massacre.
He did not provide many details on the size or location of the donors, but noted that the coalition is not based in South Carolina.
Rev. Goff viewed the creation of a scholarship fund as a manifestation of the good will the community has shown in light of tragedy.
"What a tremendous opportunity to show the world that goodness of heart overtakes evil, to show the world how we respond to tragedy," he said.
The massacre, he said, was "a terrorist act, it was racist, it was bigotry, but through it all, we realize the lesson is in how we respond: in a positive way that ripples through this nation, and throughout the world."
Mayor Riley said that those looking to make donations to the scholarship fund can do so through the group's website, or at his office.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at email@example.com.
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