MUSC leadership reflects on Mother Emanuel AME massacre and Sofa Super Store fire tragedies

A message from MUSC leadership – June 16, 2022

Dear MUSC family,

Tomorrow, our communities and the Mother Emanuel AME Church will mark the seventh anniversary of the senseless killing of nine African American parishioners during their Bible study, less than 3 miles from our Charleston campus. The effects of this tragedy remain with us, especially as we watch other racially motivated, brutal acts of violence continue to take place around our country. For many of our MUSC family members, the trauma and its memory have never gone away.

For MUSC team members in need of comfort during this time, you are invited to a support group session led by the Rev. Frank Harris, MUSC Health Pastoral Care Services, via Teams, on Wednesday, June 22 from 12 to 12:30 p.m. We also ask each of our MUSC family members to reflect on what you can start or continue to do to serve as a courageous ally in the fight against racism and racial violence.

On Saturday, the Charleston community will commemorate another tragic event in our recent history: the 15th anniversary of the loss of nine firefighters in the Sofa Super Store fire on June 18, 2007. These brave men held a combined 100 years of firefighting service when they lost their lives, and their families and the first responder community at large continue to honor their courage and selflessness in seeking to protect the community and their brethren. At the time, it was the largest loss of first responders in one incident since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Charleston Fire Department will hold its annual remembrance ceremony at 7 p.m., in West Ashley at the site of the fire, where a permanent memorial now stands to mark their sacrifice. Anyone who wishes to attend the public, in-person service may do so. We care about the impact of these events on each of you and remind you that the MUSC Resiliency Program, Employee Assistance Program, Student Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Pastoral Care Services all offer resources for individualized help.

As we remember and honor the lives lost on June 17, 2015 and June 18, 2007, we encourage everyone to reflect on the following quote.

"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim." ~ Vicki Harrison

Yours in service,

David Cole, M.D., FACS, President

Lisa Saladin, PT, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Patrick Cawley, M.D., CEO, MUSC Health and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, University

Willette Burnham-Williams, Ph.D., Chief Equity Officer