WSJ Editorial Page On Charleston Shooting: Institutionalized Racism No Longer Exists In America

Confederate Flag Over South Carolina

In the wake of the South Carolina shooting massacre that killed nine at an African Methodist Episcopal Church, The Wall Street Journal editorial board claimed that the institutionalized racism that enabled racist attacks on black churches throughout history no longer exists in America.

President Obama spoke on June 18 about the Charleston, South Carolina, shooting massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, saying the shooting is reminiscent of “a dark part of our history,” and explaining, “We know that this is not the first time in our history that black churches have been attacked.”

The Wall Street Journal responded to Obama's remarks the next day, claiming that the institutionalized racism “that enabled racist killings” throughout history “like those in the Birmingham church” no longer exists:

A white man murdering black people in the South forces bad memories to the surface, and so it surely was appropriate for President Obama to note this in his remarks Thursday. Specifically, Mr. Obama recalled the September 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four black girls.


Amid the horror of Charleston, it is also important to note that the U.S., notably the South, has moved forward to replace the system that enabled racist killings like those in the Birmingham church.

Back then and before, the institutions of government--police, courts, organized segregation--often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims.

The universal condemnation of the murders at the Emanuel AME Church and Dylann Roof's quick capture by the combined efforts of local, state and federal police is a world away from what President Obama recalled as “a dark part of our history.” Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.