Recently, a disturbing incident occurred in our town of Kingstree, South Carolina. A Caucasian local business owner used the “N” word toward an African-American woman, not knowing his phone was left on for her to hear. Understandably, the woman was deeply disturbed and deeply hurt, and so reported the hateful incident to local officials who contacted the NAACP.
The recipient of the voice message, Desialin McFadden and others, addressed the incident and the harm it caused. Though McFadden was deeply hurt by the use of the “N” word, she appealed to the community to pray and come together as a town not separate in color.
Senator Ronnie Sabb said the word only brings back the horror of the past. “When the word is used, it’s simply not a word that falls on deaf ears. It is a word that brings about emotions that, needless to say, are more than unpleasant,” he said, adding that this is an opportunity to come together to speak with one voice that there is no place for racial bigotry.
He invited the community to meet on June 27 at the Tomlinson building in Kingstree, the county seat. “There is an opportunity to say to [business owner], that’s not who we are,” he said. “That might be who you are, that’s not how we speak. That might be how you speak, but the vast majority of the people in our county are not that way.”
Public attendees were encouraged to wear masks, to socially distance, to peacefully protest and to denounce racism.
Immediately, Sr. Mary Carol Piskor, Sr. Mary Johnna Ciezobkaa and I knew we should/would participate. Sister Carol and Sister Johnna planned to do the walk from a location on Main Street to the courthouse. I joined those gathered at the courthouse. Each of us would carry a sign that read, “Hate Has No Home Here.”
There was some anxiety and fear, for we all know such events can be unpredictable, but on Saturday, June 27, there was much peace and joy as hundreds gathered together of all ages, faiths and colors to unite in the cause. There were prayers prayed and speeches made. There were songs sung and words of solidarity with the African-American woman who was present that expressed forgiveness, peace and support.
We were especially proud to see several Felician Center board members as well as our legal counsel, volunteers and staff, families and children of the Learning Center from the past and the present.
In some ways, it looked like something from an old movie; but here we were, in the year 2020, facing familiar issues. Perhaps this event, and ones like it, will get us one step closer to healing a world in need of acceptance, peace and love.