Emanuel AME Church Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize



NBC News photo captures listeners outside Emanuel AME Church service.

After being formed in 1791 by a group of free blacks and slaves, Emanuel AME Church is now the oldest black African Methodist Episcopal church south of Baltimore, MD. A dynamic past, both Booker T. Washington, in 1909, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962, who urged church members to register to vote, have spoken at the church. Burned to the ground in 1822, repressed by laws banning black churches in 1834, and eventually added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the lovingly nicknamed, “Mother Emanuel,” has faced oppression and hate for years. Their show of forgiveness following this summer’s tragedy, though, has the church recognized globally with a nomination for one of the most prestigious awards, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Four politicians from Illinois nominated the church earlier this month after learning about the kindness demonstrated by the families of the victims after forgiving white supremacist and murderer, Dylann Roof. Frank Zuccarelli, a township supervisor in Illinois, reported, “They demonstrated more love, peace and forgiveness than we have ever seen before. … They are a great example for us all to follow.”

Several black leaders praised Emanuel AME at a recent press conference and signed a letter urging the Nobel Peace Prize committee to award the honor to the church. Congresswoman Robyn Kelley of Illinois agreed with the actions being taken, praising the relatives’ grace and spirit as, “truly amazing.”

There are over 200 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, ranging from Pope Francis to Donald Trump, but the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church says that it is a ‘phenomenal’ honor to be nominated.

The winner will be announced sometime in October, though the candidates are kept secret for 50 years. Twenty-six organizations have won the Peace Prize and sixteen black individuals have won, too. But, a church has never won the renowned award, nonetheless a black church; some claiming that this honor is long overdue. The first judging meeting will be at the end of this month, on February 29.