Charleston Shooting Victim’s Brother Remembers, Honors His Sister

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A morning view of a memorial outside the Emanuel AME Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
A morning view of a memorial outside the Emanuel AME Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Cynthia Hurd, 54, was one of the nine people killed Wednesday during a bible study inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Malcolm Graham, a former North Carolina state senator, is Hurd's brother. He also served on the Charlotte, North Carolina, city council for years.

Graham remembers his sister with Here & Now's Robin Young.

The other victims of the shooting were Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and the reverends DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.

Interview Highlights: Malcolm Graham

Remembering Cynthia Hurd

"Cynthia was a beautiful woman. She was my older sister. Our parents passed away almost 20 years ago, so she was the mother figure of the family for us. She was the glue that held everybody together. She loved her family, she was married to Steve. She leaves four brothers, Robert, Leroy, Donald, a sister Jackie. She loved the library. I called her a nerd all the time. She loved reading and she loved words and she stayed with library system for well over 31 years. Just a beautiful woman. And she loved God, and she was a Christian, and Emanuel AME church is where we grew up. My mother sung the choir, our siblings said out Easter speeches at that church, I served on the national board, Cynthia was very active in the church. So the church was a home away from home, and I was not surprised at all that she was there on Wednesday night at a bible study. She was just a beautiful person."

On the victims of the shooting

"Emanuel families are strong families. Charleston's a unique community, and that church is the glue that kind of holds a number of families together. So our prayers are for all of the families, and for the entire church congregation. But these are people who were active participants in the community, whether it was in high school or the library or the pastor or being involved in public affairs, a grandmother, these were people who were everyday citizens going along, doing their work and serving their God on that Wednesday night. And so the whole community's touched by it, because of the senselessness of it."

On questions about gun control in response to the shooting

"It's not about gun violence, the president mentioned that. The gun was the tool, the instrument. But it was about hate. And I agree with the president to an extent about gun violence, and we have to do something about that, because whether it's a movie theater or a university campus or a grade school or a church, guns are too available to too many citizens who don't know how to act responsibly with them. But this was simply about hate."

On thinking about Cynthia's death

"I try not to put myself in the room. I try not to do that, because it's too painful for me to bear, and for them to have to endure. And so I get the strength, and I think the other families gain their strength, from knowing they were in a house of the lord trying to save a sinner. And they died, I would hope, in God's presence."


  • Malcolm Graham, brother of Charleston, South Carolina, shooting victim Cynthia Hurd. He is also a former North Carolina state senator and Charlotte city council member. He tweets @SenatorMGraham.

This segment aired on June 19, 2015.


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