Headshot of Bernard Powers, Marjory Wentworth and Herb FrazierCreating Unity Together: Herb Frazier, Bernard Powers & Marjory Wentworth

A conversation with the authors of “We are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel”

Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address

Tuesday, January 9, 2024, 6 p.m.
McCrary Theatre, Center for the Arts

Published in 2016, “We are Charleston” recounts the events of the horrific shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine members of the congregation dead. Two days later, as white supremacist Dylan Roof was appearing in court after being charged with the murders, the families of the nine victims forgave the killer.

“We are Charleston” followed almost a year to the day after the shooting, written by Herb Frazier, Bernard Edward Powers Jr. and Marjory Wentworth. Reginald Hildebrand, associate professor of African American Studies & History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writes that “In ‘We are Charleston,’ a sharp investigative reporter, a distinguished historian and a gifted poet have blended their skills, their knowledge, and their humanity in order to craft a probing account of and an insightful meditation on what happened to nine people who got caught being Black and trying to be Christian on a warm night in Charleston. This unsentimental yet sensitive book will become a very important part of the way that we remember and honor those nine unique individuals.”

Herb Frazier is a Charleston, South Carolina-based writer. He’s special projects editor for the Charleston City Paper, and the former marketing director at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. Before he joined Magnolia, Frazier edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier. The South Carolina Press Association named him a Journalist of the Year. He has taught newswriting as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

He is the author of “Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories.” He is the co-editor of “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth, South Carolina Writers and Poets Examine American Racism.” Frazier’s forthcoming book, “Sleeping with the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery,” is co-written with Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project.

Bernard E. Powers Jr. earned a doctorate in American history at Northwestern University. He is professor emeritus of history at the College of Charleston and the college’s founding director of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston. Powers has also served as the interim CEO of Charleston’s International African American Museum. His “Black Charlestonians: A Social History 1822-1885,” was designated an “Outstanding Academic Book” by Choice Magazine.

Most recently, he edited “101 African Americans Who Shaped South Carolina.” Powers has appeared in African American oriented documentary films, including the PBS production, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” and “Emanuel: The Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting.” He was the founding president of the Charleston Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 2019 that organization recognized his commitment to “research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history” with the Carter Godwin Woodson Scholars Medallion.

Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times bestselling author of “Out of Wonder” and “Poems Celebrating Poets” (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). Her books of poetry include “Noticing Eden,” “Despite Gravity,” “The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle” and “New and Selected Poems.” Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize seven times. She is also the co-writer of “Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights,” with Juan E. Mendez. She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of “Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green,” and the author of the prizewinning children’s story “Shackles.”

She served as the poet laureate of South Carolina from 2003-2017. In 2020, she was named a National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. Wentworth teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at the College of Charleston. Wentworth was named a Black Earth Institute Fellow for 2022 through 2025.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. Tickets will be available beginning November 27 at elon.edu/boxoffice.