Sheryl Sandberg came to Charleston to promote a new book on handling trauma and growing in the face of grief. The Facebook executive said she got a lesson in it, too.
Sandberg, the social network's chief operating officer, said she visited Emanuel AME Church before giving a talk Wednesday about her new book, "Option B," which reflects on her experience after her husband died unexpectedly two years ago.
"It's not growth that you'd want, but it is growth, and there is meaning in both the joy and the grief in our lives," Sandberg said.
Speaking to a sell-out crowd at the Charleston Music Hall on John Street, Sandberg said she decided to schedule a Lowcountry stop on her book tour in part because of the book's focus on building resilience to adversity.
She and co-author Adam Grant sought out stories of how people cope with trauma for the book, she said, and she spoke with longtime Emanuel member Willi Glee about how Charleston responded to the fatal shooting of nine black parishioners by an avowed white supremacist in the church's fellowship hall. Days later, several of the victims' relatives publicly forgave the killer, sending a message that was heard across the country.
"Willi talked to me about the resilience of the city and the church," Sandberg said in a conversation with National Public Radio host Michele Norris. "There's a lot to learn here — about what binds us together, what holds us together and what we still have to overcome."
Sandberg, who is one of the most influential women in the male-dominated technology industry, has emerged in recent years as a prominent voice in Silicon Valley and Facebook, where she is the company's No. 2 executive and is a member of the board of directors. Her first book, "Lean In," was a best-selling call to action for women in the workplace.
Sandberg's visit wasn't the first by a top-ranking Facebook executive this year.
Mark Zuckerberg, the tech behemoth's founder and chief executive, made an unannounced trip to Charleston in March as part of a nationwide tour to see communities outside the Silicon Valley bubble. Zuckerberg attended a service at Emanuel and later expressed in a Facebook post a sentiment similar to Sandberg's.
"The community experienced a level of grief beyond what I can imagine, and they are still working through it. Yet in the face of such hate and tragedy, the victims' families forgave the murderer and treated him with compassion," Zuckerberg wrote. "We have a lot to learn from Charleston and Mother Emanuel."