South Carolina is still going through a healing process when it comes to dealing with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre in Charleston. Singer and producer Pharrell Williams paid the church a visit over the weekend and spent two days uplifting the congregation’s spirits.
On Sunday, Williams spoke with the churchgoers and also performed a song. But it was the forum he held Monday that touched a lot of people.
On Monday night, Williams hosted an open forum at the AME church to give parishioners and people in the community a chance to discuss the racial divide in South Carolina.
According to WCEB, attendees included family members of those who were killed inside the church, often referred to as Mother Emanuel, back on June 17, as well as Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, state senators, local officials and members of the community.
A touching moment occurred when a 12-year-old girl named Sarah asked Williams for advice when it comes to dealing with racist bullies. Sarah attends a predominantly white school and complained that people make racist jokes about fried chicken and watermelon because she’s black.
Initially, Williams joked about the food stereotype, telling the girl, “I love chicken!” before adding, “I’m not worried about what anyone in here thinks,” after the congregation started to laugh.
At that point, the little girl was crying, and he explained to her that she is surrounded by love.
“Know that there is love; there is love in this room,” said Williams.
Williams then repeated the following to Sarah: “You’re beautiful and you’re black, but before you’re black, you’re beautiful because you have a life and you have a soul. You’re beautiful.”
No cameras were allowed in the church because Williams’ visit was a part of A&E’s program Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America, which airs Nov. 20.
“The current racial situation in America is at a critical point,” said Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich. “Today's musical artists, much like those of the civil rights movement’s history, have strong feelings about what’s going on today, and we’re hopeful that Shining a Light does, in fact, give a voice to their concerns, their hopes and their thinking about solutions to the alarming events that we see around us every day.”