BIBLE STUDY COMMEMORATIVE PIECE FOR CHARLESTON EMANUEL 9
The painting Bible Study, depicts the legacy of the Charleston Emanuel Nine and God’s indelible grace that engraved each of their names on the palms of His hands—the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sr., Myra Thompson, and Reverend Depayne Middleton.
The painting tells the story of an old-fashioned, backwoods creek baptism. Behind the woman emerging from the water, trees bloom in vibrant shades of magenta, fuchsia, and violet. The space between the trees is illuminated by the truth and light of God’s word, Matthew 13, the Parable of the Sower, the same passage the Charleston Emanuel Nine were studying the night their lives were tragically taken.
Infused in the right side of the collage, is an example of seeds that fell on unfertile ground, seeds that had no depth of earth, shallow roots that left them scorched and withered. In 1963, the moment a bomb struck the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the clock stopped. This clock symbolizes unfertile ground.
The fruits of seeds that fell on fertile ground are represented on the left side of the collage by the calendar from 1964, the year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders witnessed President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act, a step towards freedom and equality for all. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sowed and watered the seeds. God grew and multiplied them, yielding a crop thirty, sixty, one-hundred times that which he had planted in faith, demonstrating what God can do with a fertile heart.
Embedded in the background you will also find the steeple of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the heart of the Holy City, now a symbol of unity and hope, of strength and forgiveness, of light in the darkness, of triumph over tragedy. The collage is designed to document and to teach.
Two men stand on either side of the woman being baptized, helping her to her feet. Although she is still weak, she is filled with the joy of God’s promises and the hope of the resurrection. The men are a reminder that no matter what we might be going through in life, whether it’s joy or pain, we are never alone. The woman has been given wings to help her ascend to her new beginning, her new way of thinking, her new way of doing, her new way of being.
Her dress bears the black and white images of each of the Emanuel Nine. She carries pieces of them in her soul—pastor, senator, grandmother, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, coach, barber, poet, entrepreneur, librarian, lover of jazz, veteran, custodian, speech therapist, teacher, guidance counselor, choir singer, leader, beloved. Next to each one of them are scriptures and quotes to give each a voice, to give us counsel, understanding, and direction.
- written by Laurie McCall
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A limited number of reproductions will be made from this sixty-by-seventy-two-inch original painting, each one numbered and signed. In addition, nine of these commemorative-edition, embellished, framed prints will be given to the next of kin of each of the victim’s family.
Each month a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the reproductions of Bible Study will be donated to a worthy cause or foundation on behalf of each of the Emanuel Nine.
“No amount of money could ever give me the joy and the reward I’ve received from being given this mission, from being led by God to use my gifts to create, to love, and to serve. I have been handsomely repaid by knowing I was chosen for such a time as this. I hope all who help keep the voice, the spirit, and the intentions of the Charleston Emanuel Nine alive will receive the love that only God can put inside of us. Nothing can be greater than that.” – Leroy Campbell