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August 20 , 2007

Standing on Holy Ground

A Triumph over Hate Crime in the Deep South


A sweeping epidemic of hate crime targeted over one hundred Southern Black Churches between 1995 and 1996, leaving them in charred ruins. St. John Baptist Church in Dixiana, South Carolina, was one of the first destroyed. This small, isolated church had faced dark times before. It had been viciously desecrated in 1985 and withstood more attacks until it was burned down in August 1995.

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From the beginning, two friends – a white woman named Ammie Murray, and a black woman named Barbara Simmons – rallied volunteers to rebuild the historic St. John. Much to their amazement, hundreds of people from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds responded to their call for help. They refused to stop rebuilding the church-despite repeated attempts on Ammie and Barbara's lives and relentless attacks on the church. Soon, these two heroic women joined the leaders and congregations from two other burned, black churches-Macedonia Baptist and Mt. Zion AME-in leading the nation in a courageous battle against hate crime in the deep South.

Beautifully rendered with warmth and grace, this inspiring story of enduring friendship, reconciliation, spiritual strength, and hope shows us how we can triumph over racial hatred.

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