In the wake of a tragic shooting in Charleston allegedly fueled by hate, here’s an image powered by love.
On Sunday, in the wake of a gunman attacking a prayer service at a black church in Charleston, SC, parishioners across the city gathered to pray, worship and remember the victims.
Taylor Willis, a black woman, was at one street corner with a friend and signs offering free hugs to those who could use one. One of the takers was 3-year-old Parker Nettles, whose father John Nettles captured this powerful image, The Huffington Post reports.
“Parker doesn’t understand how powerful that hug is,” Nettles wrote in his Facebook caption. “To him it’s just a hug. He doesn’t understand that he’s hugging a black woman and that he’s a white boy. He doesn’t understand that just last week there was another white boy who decided to murder several black people – just because they’re black. To him, it’s just a hug with another person. It’s probably the most beautiful hug I’ve ever witnessed.”
Dylann Roof, the suspected shooter, reportedly confessed to police in the shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine, including pastor Clementa Pinckney, a South Carolina state senator. A manifesto apparently linked to Roof includes one image of him waving a Confederate flag and another where he is wearing a jacket adorned with badges of the flags of Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was known under white rule as a nascent independent state in the 1970s) and apartheid South Africa.
Nettles said he and wife Lindsey have been trying to expose their son to shows of solidarity and love since last week’s shooting.
“I had Parker’s window down and he loved seeing all the people and hearing them chant and cheer!” Nettles said. “He learned the ‘peace sign’ for the first time and was so happy to wave and say ‘peace’ to all the people waving back!”