Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor, a minister, admissions coordinator, and mother, 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 final of a series of poems honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.
“Eulogy: For Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor”
My beautiful songbird
She’s going to be missed in church, in school, everywhere
Always a warm and enthusiastic leader
A gracious person who always had time for people
When people said ‘pray for me,’ she would stop and pray right there
She prayed for that young man
Faced with that danger, she gave praise
We know she did
We know where she is
Columbia College, BA in biology;
Southern Wesleyan University, master’s in management;
Community Development Block Grant, director;
Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist, minister; choir member; mother
of four. You were planning to take your daughter to basketball practice.
You were planning to study for the AME ministry, like your father
before. You were planning on ushering kids into college —
you’d taken that job in admissions after years of writing grants.
What are applications but supplications?
What are grants but prayers beseeching the past tense,
granted? You always placed yourself, it seems,
at the gates of a dream, understanding
that if you want something, you must ask for it, clearly.
Your family has asked this, clearly, of us —
that we move away from the sidelines and unite,
regardless of faith, to seek an end to hatred;
that we remove the Confederate flag
from the statehouse grounds;
that we recognize the connection
between racism, hate crimes, and racialized policing;
that we see see this attack on their family
as an attack on ours. Let these prayers come to pass,
on earth as it is in heaven, and as we approach the gates,
let our actions speak louder than words.
The words that open this poem are those of Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor’s friends, family, and coworkers. The details of her life and professional career are from an article by the Charleston Post and Courier and a statement from Southern Wesleyan University, where Doctor had recently taken a job as an admissions counselor, and where officials recently announced will offer full four-year scholarships to each of Middleton Doctor’s children. The words that conclude this poem are paraphrased from a powerful statement issued by Middleton Doctor’s family following her death. I encourage you to read the rest of it.