Myra Thompson, a retired schoolteacher, guidance counselor, mother, and grandmother, died June 17, 2015, in the mass shooting in Charleston.
he massacre of nine people on June 17 at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a tragedy of national proportions. I feel strongly that this is a time for all Americans to act in whatever way we can to address the racial hatred that lives on in our country in ways both great and small. This is the seventh in a series of poems honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.
“Eulogy: For Myra Thompson”
She was sassy, very smart, just kind and loving
She was a part of an amazing sisterhood
A tireless woman
Her devotion to Mother Emanuel … was second only to her commitment to her family
You can tell by the crowd what kind of person she was
Bachelor’s degree in English education; two master’s degrees;
Delta Sigma Theta; schoolteacher; guidance counselor;
mother; grandmother; sister; friend.
Though one outlet noted you only as the wife
of Reverend Thompson, you had that very evening
received your certificate to preach, and preach you did,
the Parable of the Soil, which tells us of the seed
sown on the path, which the deceiver will brush away;
the seed sown on rocks, which will grow but last only until
persecution comes; the seed sown on thorns,
which will grow but fail to fruit, overwhelmed
by the concerns of the world; and finally,
of the seed sown on fertile soil, which will grow, produce fruit,
and in time a crop—some thirty, some sixty,
some a hundred times what was sown.
Teacher, preacher, Mrs. Thompson,
Reverend Pinckney, Reverend Coleman Singleton,
Reverend Simmons, and Reverend Middleton Doctor
all came to share your lesson. You were calling forth
the word, that seed, broadcasting it
farther than you knew, and already
many hearts have hardened. Already, many deceivers
have brushed those seeds away; already,
the cares of the world have sought to overwhelm
that good seed, in our time of need, taking root.
Some have sought to persecute those tender shoots with fire,
unaware that such destruction is in fact,
an ancient farming technique. You warned us of this
with your next-to-last breath, but reminded us too
that wherever the seeds of justice fall
across this fertile land, a hundred more
one day will take root.
The words that open this poem are those of people who knew Myra Thompson, culled from various sources, including a story by ABC News. And though Buzzfeed noted only that she was the wife of Reverend Anthony Thompson, a vicar at Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopalian Church, the Charleston Post and Courier fills out her life and legacy in much greater detail. The Biblical scripture paraphrased in this poem is from Mark 4:14-20.