During the last ten months, Mother Emanuel historian and archivist Liz Alston has been astonished by the continual gestures of kindness she has witnessed as countless people from around the world have sent letters, gifts and donations to the church. The building itself has become a place of pilgrimage for visitors who want to pay their respects. The sheer good in people astounds her, and it certainly has helped members of the congregation slowly begin to heal.
I too have witnessed the outpouring of love in multiple ways. One of the most touching examples comes from a woman named Lyn Axson in the small town of North, South Carolina. She created the “Awareness Bracelet” which includes the names of the Emanuel 9. The bracelets are blue to signify heaven where she believes they are watching us “to see what we will do with the torch that has been passed to us.” She also includes a quote by Reverend Clementa Pinckney that I used as an epigraph in my poem “Holy City” written after the shooting at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church – “Only love can conquer hate.” Ms. Axson contacted me because she included a copy of my poem when she mailed a bracelet. I was deeply honored. She says the response has been overwhelming: “my postmaster, the gas station attendant, and the nurse at my doctor’s office….all asked for extra bracelets for their family, friends, and church.”
She also told me that God has used me to help her create this project, and this humbles me beyond measure. I have worn my “Awareness Bracelet” as almost every community event I have attended in Charleston this year – from rallies to Town Hall Meetings with Presidential candidates, and I have passed them out to friends and associates. When Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens performed in Charleston this fall with our mutual friend Laurelyn Dossett, they both wore their bracelets on stage at The Charleston Music Hall.
Lyn Axson’s “Awareness Bracelets” remind me of the power of one. She has made a difference and done something quite profound in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, and this fills me with hope.
If you would like to order an “Awareness Bracelet” please call Rachel at Centrex Promotions at 803-531-8503.