(Reuters) - Anonymous donors have given more than $3 million to fund college scholarships for the community around the historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina where nine people were slain last month, local leaders said on Thursday.
The large contribution underscores a national outpouring of grief and support for Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, site of the racially motivated shooting spree on June 17.
The scholarship fund will be named after one of the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church's leader and a state senator. The scholarships are intended for the church's extended community, including the victims' relatives.
"They will know that that scholarship fund is available because this community and this country responded to hate with love," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said at a news conference at the church.
The Reverend Pinckney Scholarship Fund, an endowed fund to which anyone can contribute, recognizes the dignity with which the church nicknamed, "Mother Emanuel," has coped with the tragedy, the donors said in a statement.
"We want them to know that others, most of whom do not share their race or religion, who do not come from South Carolina, abhor the injustices from which they have suffered and admire the ways the African-American community has enriched our nation," the donors said.
The church's presiding elder and interim pastor, Reverend Norvel Goff, told reporters that diversity and inclusiveness should be among the factors considered in awarding the scholarships.
"We’re trying to create a better world, a better world than the one we inherited," he said.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)