Three more victims of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre are being laid to rest Saturday.
The first funeral was for Cynthia Hurd, 54, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — the same house of worship where a white gunman killed her and eight others during a Bible study on June 17. Police say the shooting was racially motivated.
Hurd, a town librarian, was a dedicated public servant, speakers at her funeral said. Among those present were civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
Clyburn, one of Congress’ leading black lawmakers, said Hurd embodied South Carolina’s motto, a Latin phrase that translates to: “While I breathe, I hope.”
“Because of the life of Cynthia Graham Hurd and eight other great people, I have hope today,” Clyburn said. “I have great hope that South Carolina is going to live out its motto in a way that none of us would have ever believed.”
A joint funeral for Tywanza Sanders, 26, and Susie Jackson, 87, was taking place Saturday afternoon. Jackson was Sanders’ great aunt.
In an emotional eulogy on Friday, President Obama paid tribute to the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was among the nine killed.
The shooting at the historic black chuch by gunman Dylann Roof has ignited the debate over strained race relations in this country. Roof, 21, has confessed to the murders, sources say.
A website featuring a white supremacist screed and dozens of photos of Roof posing with the Confederate flag was discovered last week. The FBI is investigating it and are operating under the assumption that Roof is behind the writing and photos, a source told NBC News.
Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at Friday’s funeral and said the Confederate flag is “a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation.” The flag still flies at many sites of distinction, and was briefly taken down by activists in South Carolina’s capital on Saturday morning.