Black Community Calling for Conversation Following South Carolina Church Massacre

FAYETTEVILLE, AR--Today people across the country are remembering the victims killed in the attack at an historic South Carolina church, and so are local community leaders, hearing about the tragedy.

"Disbelief. Shock. Not again," said Leora Jackson, hearing about the tragic shooting in South Carolina.

Members of the black community in Northwest Arkansas stunned by the shooting at a black South Carolina church.

"(The church is) where people just come together, and just pray," said Jackson. "A place where you feel peace and all that was shattered and broken, and lives were lost."

Leora Jackson is the founder of Umoja Soul Writers, it is a predominately black group, but open to all.

"We are writers," said Jackson. "We're bloggers. We are advocates. We're activists. We're out there."

She believes Wednesday's shooting is one of several recent crimes targeting the black community.

"The struggle continues," said Jackson. "From McKinney, Texas, from Baltimore, from Ferguson, from New York...and now Charleston.The community needs to address it. There's no side-stepping it. It's real."

Jackson says she wants to see a cultural conversation happening not just nationally, but on a local level.
Sheree Miller hopes to spark some change in her community

"Looking at things to improve Bentonville's city," said Sheree Miller, was recently appointed to the Comprehensive Plan and Advisory Committee for the city of Bentonville. "Make it more culturally diverse. And we are growing, so we want to keep up with that growth."

Miller says seeing leaders who look like you can have a big impact, and create a stronger sense of belonging within a community.

"For our youth here in Northwest Arkansas that you know that there are people who are in places of leadership who have came before you who have paved the way," said Miller.

And for Jackson 'community unity' brings hope in a tragic situation.

"They're getting together and marching in solidarity, cause we stand in unison," said Jackson.

There is a community vigil planned for 6pm, Saturday at St. James Baptist Church in Fayetteville to remember the 9 lives lost.

This story was originally reported by Tevin Wooten. You can follow this report and more at Tevin's Twitter or Facebook page.

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