Nine African-American churchgoers were murdered by a white supremacist while in prayer at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. It stunned the nation and we mourned with Charleston and the African-American community at large. The tragedy is remembered in "Emanuel," a new film from Director Brian Ivie, executive producers including NBA star Steph Curry and Academy Award winner Viola Davis, and actress Mariska Hargitay, who served as a co-producer.
The film, which judging by the trailer looks incredibly powerful, gives survivors and victims' loved ones the chance to share their stories and, remarkably, to offer forgiveness for the man who upended their lives.
"He sat through the whole Bible study," one survivor explains in the trailer. "We closed our eyes to pray, and that's when he lit up the room."
The church members had opened their hearts to the young man, only to have him turn on them in an act of evil. Just like that, nine families would never be the same again.
One woman recalls the moment she learned her mother had been killed in the attack. She knows her mom was taken too soon, but this daughter had managed to find forgiveness.
"Yes, she had more loving to do," she said. "But I forgive him."
And that's exactly what other survivors and families did as well. As President Obama is quoted in the trailer, the "families of the fallen" showed up to the courtroom and forgave the killer "in the midst of unspeakable grief."
"Emanuel" is in select theaters on two nights only, June 17 and June 19.