Vigil to honor nine killed

Local faith and African-American groups will conduct a vigil to honor the memories of the nine people killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

The vigil, open to the public, will take place at 7:15 p.m. Thursday on the steps of City Hall Plaza.

The service will begin with a reading of the names of the nine churchgoers who were killed June 17 during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, said Sharon Karr, a member of InterFaith Forum Columbus.

As the names are read, a candle will be lit and a chime will sound.

Speeches will follow the candle-lighting ceremony, said Mary Harmon, who will speak on behalf of InterFaith Forum Columbus.

Each speaker will address the crowd for about two minutes, said Harmon, who helped create the African-American Fund of Bartholomew County.

“In addition to it being an experience where people can have a sense of healing around what has happened, people also want to give voice and acknowledgement around racism present in our society,” Harmon said.

Karr said she expects the speeches to address the systemic issues of racism in American society, including Indiana, where about 18 hate groups operate, Karr said.

Past Shoulder-to-Shoulder vigils have drawn crowds as big as 200 people, and Harmon said she expects a similar size for Thursday’s service. She said she hopes the vigil will inspire local residents to begin looking for solutions to the race issues they see around them.

“This could be an impetus for various community organizations to begin to put together a program,” Harmon said.

The service will conclude around 8 p.m. with mourners singing “We Shall Overcome,” the song that became the anthem of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Washington Street between First and Second streets will be closed during the service.

If you go

What: Shoulder-to-Shoulder Vigil honoring Charleston, South Carolina,  shooting victims

When: 7:15 p.m., Thursday, City Hall Plaza steps

Participating groups: InterFaith Forum Columbus, Bartholomew County NAACP, African-American Pastors Alliance, IUPUC, Columbus Human Rights Commission

Rain location: Cal Brand meeting room, City Hall first floor

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.