Rev. Sharon Washington Risher began her speech last night citing some words from St. Francis. She said, “As I was trolling through your school’s website I ran across this and it has stuck with me […] We must never desire to be above others but instead we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake”
This idea of “not being above others,” and “loving one another” was what Rev. Risher believed to be most important to learn from her story.
Risher describes herself as “a proud daughter of the American south, a true Geechee girl […] and a product of the civil rights era.” Since this speech was a part of MLK week, Risher shared her own experience with Dr. Martin Luther King.
Her mother took her to a rally that Dr. King was speaking at. While she was in the back of the room and couldn’t see Dr. King, she entails that she “could hear Dr. Martin Luther King’s voice and […] thought he sounded like God to me”
Risher unfortunately lost many loved ones when Dylann Roof, a lone gunman, entered and killed nine worshippers at the Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, SC. Among the people she lost were her mother, Ethel Lee Lance, her two cousins, Tywanza Sanders and Suzie Jackson, and a childhood friend, Myra Thompson.
Because of everything she was forced to endure because of this tragedy, she considers herself to be an “accidental activist.” Risher was interviewed for TIME magazine and the New York Times. She has also become a national advocate for gun control.
Risher ended her speech last night with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King. She quoted that, ‘nothing will be done until people of goodwill put their bodies and their souls in motion. And it will be the kind of soul force brought into being as a result of this confrontation that I believe will make the difference.”