Juneteenth prayer event organizers reflect on Charleston tragedy

Organizers of a Juneteenth prayer event scheduled for Friday in Fort Worth are reflecting on the tragedy in Charleston.

They say this year's observance will take on a different feel as they focus on the shooting victims.

Friday's Juneteenth celebration will begin with a prayer breakfast, and leaders of the event say the victims in South Carolina will be at the center of that prayer.

Juneteenth emcee Estrus Tucker says the event puts Wednesday night's tragic shooting in Charleston under the microscope and is exactly why the theme of Fort Worth's Juneteenth celebration is so relevant.

"We're not free until we all are free, and that we all is not just African American again," said Tucker. "It's Americans of all walks of life, because as long as freedom is threatened in any of those camps by any of our identities, then none of us are really free."

The Charleston shooting hits especially hard for Al Meredith, the senior pastor at Wedgwood Baptist Church.

"Right now, the church members and the families are numb," he said. "They've cried their eyes out in shock."

Nearly 16 years ago, a gunman killed seven people at the Fort Worth church before killing himself.

Meredith says the Charleston murders remind him of the agony his congregation endured; only, in their case, the pastor was killed.

"Who now is going to do these funerals?" said Meredith. "Who's gonna comfort these families, these spouses, that are left behind? Who's gonna lead the church through the dark hours that lie ahead? They're without a shepherd."

Meredith and Tucker both say the next step is to work toward a solution.

"All of us have to find ways to reach beyond the color line, the economic, line the political party line and be willing to consider how someone else is feeling the heartbreak of another and then move from that heartbreak of listening to then being part of the solution," said Tucker.

Friday's celebration will continue at Cobb Park with a festival and at city hall, where Tucker says, as master of ceremonies, he'll be addressing the shooting in his remarks.                      

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