Former North Carolina State Senator Malcolm Graham’s sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, was one of nine victims of the Charleston shooting at the Emmanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015. In coordination with SevenDays, Malcolm came to BV on Thursday, April 14 to share his story of healing after tragedy, in memory of his sister, to combat hate with love.
“My goal and my objective is to reach out to folks — different races, different religions, different perspectives — to say that we are all in this together,” Malcolm said. “SevenDays is about remembering those who were lost, celebrating how they lived, and demonstrating to a community as a whole that through pain, disappointment and anguish, that life continues.
Malcolm discussed the importance of community acceptance of all different kinds of people.
“Try to be better tomorrow than you are today,” he said. “Love one another. Go out of your comfort zone and help someone who may not look like you. Don’t judge people. Welcome people who do not look like you into your circle.”
Malcolm said remembering these tragedies is a crucial key to healing.
“It is Cynthia that I celebrate,” Malcolm said. “I just encourage you to remember your classmate [Reat]. Remember his smile, remember him being a part of this student body, remember what happened here in Kansas City, how senseless it was. Remember what happened in Charleston through my story.”
Reat’s mother and founder of SevenDays, Mindy Corporon, said although it may seem like she has dealt with Reat’s tragedy well, she struggles, but with help from others she continues to heal.
“A lot of you, Reat’s classmates, follow me on social media,” Corporon said. “I’m usually posting positive things. I want you all to know that it has been so hard for me. I’m reminded of Reat every day, but you all don’t see that. If you’re struggling with something, I don’t want you to look at me and think, ‘She has dealt with everything so well, I need to do that,’ because I haven’t dealt with this on my own. I’ve had so much support, from my faith and from others.”
Malcolm said his healing is a continuous process, and that he finds peace in his sister’s loss through his faith and his community.
“I was so mad at God,” Malcolm said. “I yelled at Him everyday, saying, ‘Why did you let this happen? Where were you?’ But, then I remembered the meaning of Emmanuel — God with us. See, God is with us, and I have faith in the fact that God was there in the walls of that church that day. He still is. I can’t understand it — these things that happen, I can’t understand. But I am trying. I’m being honest with you right now by saying I haven’t forgiven the man who killed my sister. I know I am called to forgive, but I am not quite there yet. We’re all on different faith walks. Now, I’m working toward understanding. I will get there someday.”
Speaking on the third day of SevenDays, dedicated to the topic of others, Malcolm’s message for BV was to continue to spread love around our school, and everywhere we go, not being afraid of the differences between us.
“As young people, you have a responsibility to share this with others,” he said. “When you see people in your presence making ugly comments, racial comments or talking about someone because of a different lifestyle, that that cannot be acceptable in your presence. You have to walk away from that. What happened in Charleston was an isolated incident — I understand that. What happened here in Kansas City was isolated. But, history has a way of repeating itself. The only way we can stop it, stop it in its track, is by sharing our love with one another and working together, and sharing together, and loving together.”