Through the power of forgiveness, Rev. Anthony B. Thompson said he successfully foiled the plans of the racist white supremacist who committed a 2015 church massacre in Charleston, S.C.
“He wanted to start a race war, it could have been a race war had we decided to give in and hate him get angry with him and burn up our city or just get mad at every white person we came in contact with, but of course it wasn’t in our heart to do that you know–at least wasn’t my heart to do that as well,” Thompson told Bold TV.
During the criminals first bond hearing, Thompson forgave Dylann Roof, the young, white man who opened fire during a church service at the predominantly black AME Church in Charleston. One of the nine people killed in the massacre was the Reverend’s wife, Myra Thompson. Since then, Thompson said he has learned to let go of his anger, and through that, found inner peace.
“Some people say it was a cowardly act [to forgive], because Dylann didn’t accept my forgiveness, and he doesn’t have to accept my forgiveness, because the forgiveness wasn’t for Dylann — it was for me,” Thompson told Bold TV. “When I told Dylann I forgive him, I’m the one that experiences the peace, I experienced the peace right away.”
In his new book, “Called to Forgive” Thompson talks about his journey in finding peace with the killer and himself.
“I have the same peace right now that sustains me, and that enables me to move forward in my life, and it has aided the community of Charleston to come together,” Thompson said.
Rev. Thompson said he focuses on peace for the victims, saying that one can find peace by forgiving those who have wronged you.
“You’re not letting yourself get pushed around, you’re relieving yourself of the burden you’re carrying that you didn’t have to carry — the burden of hate and anger, being angry at somebody,” he said.
Thompson spoke with Bold TV about what he calls a “slave mentality” that a lot of people carry around when they are angry toward someone from another race.
“Why would I have a slave mentality?” Thompson said. “I’m not a slave, I don’t have to pretend to be nice to a white person, thinking they’re going to do some harm to me, that’s out of the question.”
Thompson said he is concerned about today’s culture, which he says centers around violence. “What’s happening in our culture today is that there is a lot of violence, people are angry and carry a lot of burdens because someone did them wrong, instead of talking about it or trying to resolve the problem with whoever their problem is with, they just pick people at random, including for no reason people they don’t know.”
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