Museum News

Lonnie Bunch's statement on the Charleston Shootings

June 18, 2015

We at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) are deeply saddened by the shooting deaths of Rev. Clementa Pinckney and his fellow worshipers at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last night as they attended Bible Study. We are shocked by this murderous act that took the lives of so many. All of us here at NMAAHC offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those senselessly slain, and to the people of Charleston, we impart our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers.

Emmanuel A.M.E., one of our nation’s oldest historically black congregations, has long stood as a symbol of freedom in the south. It has been the gathering place for African Americans in peaceful worship and social activism since its inception more than 200 years ago. The church has played host to numerous peaceful Civil Rights advocates including Booker T. Washington, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins and Coretta Scott King, among others.

I reached out this morning to my friend, Joe Riley who is the Mayor of Charleston and shared our condolences. This violent act – the slaughter of innocents based on hatred, bigotry and ignorance – reveals the importance of the museum’s work. At the museum, our goal isn’t only to collect objects and stories, but also to combat ignorance. Through our work, we endeavor to build a healing bridge of hope between our tortured racial past and a future of peace and solace for all Americans.

Please join us in continuing to keep those who are suffering in your thoughts and prayers.

Lonnie Bunch
Founding Director
National Museum of African American History and Culture

Media Contact(s): 

Fleur Paysour (202) 633-4761; 
Lindsey Koren (202) 633-4052; 

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About The Museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.