Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Is there any way we can make sense of the horrific events that took place in Charleston, South Carolina, last week? When 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday night, who could have known he would take the lives of nine people, including the church's pastor? Roof reportedly had intentions of starting a race war, but the results of his actions have been nearly as surprising as the shootings he carried out. MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts was moved to tears Friday as a group gathered at the church broke out in impromptu song. Victims' family members could be heard expressing forgiveness for Roof at his bond hearing that same day. Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley said, “This hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea that he would be able to divide. And all he did was make us more united, and love each other even more.” This is the attitude it will take to undo years of racial tension in America, a tension that has only been heightened recently by several high-profile events. There is no denying that what took place in Charleston was a tragedy, but as President Barrack Obama tweeted, “In the midst of darkest tragedy, the decency and goodness of the American people shines through in these families.”