WASHINGTON — On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Charleston church shooting, U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn will host a virtual discussion Tuesday about the "Emanuel" documentary, which is briefly being made available to watch online for free.
Clyburn, D-Columbia, said Monday that the upcoming June 17 anniversary of the day that self-avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof gunned down nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church comes at a pivotal moment as thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest racial inequality.
As the highest-ranking African American member of Congress, Clyburn told reporters he has found this to be "one of the most interesting periods of American history."
"I spend quite a bit of time researching and reflecting upon our country's history, and I cannot think of any other time that this kind of reexamination has taken place," Clyburn said. "There have been a lot of events, a lot of activities, a lot of reactions. Nothing that I can find in our history has been like this one."
The virtual discussion will be moderated by Pastor Dimas Salaberrios, a producer of the documentary, and will feature Clyburn, executive producers Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, co-producer Mariska Hargitay and Pastor A.R. Bernard.
After watching the film again over the weekend, Clyburn said he believes it "allows us to reflect, not just upon the events, but upon the country, and reexamine our own thought processes."
"Hopefully after the 17th and after this commemoration, all of us will be better people and better Americans," Clyburn said.
The discussion will be streamed live on Facebook at 6 p.m. Tuesday at facebook.com/WeStopTheSilence.
The movie is now available to watch online for free until June 23 due to an agreement between Comcast, NBCUniversal and Starz at vimeo.com/showcase/7241422.
Salaberrios said he hopes the event will allow the panelists to bring needed context to the protests that have erupted around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, and the role that racism has played in American history.
"We need to really focus in on lessons that we can see and learn from the film 'Emanuel,' and hopefully bring healing to a lot of frustrated and hurt young people," Salaberrios said. "We have a long way to go."