Cynthia Graham Hurd, sister of former N.C. Sen. Malcolm Graham of Charlotte, will be buried Saturday after a funeral at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston where on June 17 she and eight others were gunned down while studying the Bible.
Collectively, they are being called the “Emanuel 9.” At wakes Friday night for Hurd and two other victims before her, many men wore ribbons pinned to their coat lapels with that name followed by “Emanuel AME.”
During Hurd’s wake at the historic church that for generations has been a source of strength for Charleston’s blacks, about 200 of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters conducted its revered “The Ivy Beyond the Wall” ceremony, reserved for sisters who have died. The sorority is the country’s oldest started by black college students at Howard University in 1908.
The sisters, all dressed in white dresses and holding a sprig of ivy, ringed the quaint sanctuary and prayed, sang and read a resolution from the national organization honoring Hurd, who was initiated into the sorority in 1979 as a student at Clark Atlanta University. She would have turned 55 last Sunday.
At Clark, she was a member of the “Geechee 3 from Charleston,” said Kim McFarland Knight, another member who grew up with Hurd “in this church” and was her college roommate.
Knight said she always admired Hurd’s quiet “purpose-driven life.” She said Hurd wasn’t flamboyant, but you knew when she was in the room. “It was her smile. Her wit,” she said. “She was brilliant and she had this zeal to help anyone.”
At the end of her eulogy, Knight said: “Rest in peace Graham Cracker.”
After the ceremony, hundreds lining Calhoun Street from the church were allowed inside to pay respects to Hurd and her family.
The funeral Saturday starts at 11 a.m.