SAVANNAH Ga., (WSAV) — On June 17, 2015, a tragedy struck in Charleston, South Carolina, when 21-year-old Dylan Roof murdered nine people.
That day Reverend Sharon Washington Risher lost her mother, two cousins, and a childhood friend.
What she didn’t know at the time, is that the tragedy would prompt her to become an activist — sharing her story with people all across the nation.
Asbury Memorial United Memorial Church was filled as members of the community and the church joined to hear her sermon yesterday in Savannah.
“Never in my life did I think our country would return to such unspeakable acts of violence and intolerance, but then a white supremacist walked into my families’ church and my life changed forever,” Risher said.
This tragedy caused Risher to speak out across the country to express her journey of loss, faith, forgiveness, racism and gun-violence prevention.
“It’s about running tragedy into triumph. I’m an accidental activist. Never, ever in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have the national platform that I have,” Risher said.
This national platform has helped Risher overcome many of her struggles, but she still questions why certain violence and intolerance remains.
Risher spoke about the recent events in Charlottesville that sparked rallies, protests, and negotiations for the removal of Confederate monuments across the nation.
According to Risher, “There is a direct correlation between the violence and racism in Charlottesville and hate feud gun violence that happened in Charleston.”
Her sermon left many in the church in tears and waiting outside to greet her after the service. She still believes that there is hope for the nation, even with tragedy and misunderstanding.
“I know it will take a mighty powerful lift, for America to begin doing work to heal the racial strike that has threatened and hurt so many of our community,” Risher says.