Eulogy: For Myra Thompson






She was sassy, very smart, just kind and loving

She was a part of an amazing sisterhood

A tireless woman

Her devotion to Mother Emanuel…was second only to her commitment to her family

You can tell by the crowd what kind of person she was

Bachelor’s degree in English education; two master’s degrees;

Delta Sigma Theta; schoolteacher; guidance counselor;

mother; grandmother; sister; friend.

Though one outlet noted you only as the wife

of Reverend Thompson, you had that very evening

received your certificate to preach, and preach you did,

the Parable of the Soil, which tells us of the seed

sown on the path, which the deceiver will brush away;

the seed sown on rocks, which will grow but last only until

persecution comes along; the seed sown on thorns,

which will grow but fail to fruit, overwhelmed

by the concerns of the world; and finally,

of the seed sown on fertile soil, which will grow, produce fruit,

and in time a crop—some thirty, some sixty,

some a hundred times what was sown.

Teacher, preacher, Mrs. Thompson,

Reverend Pinckney, Reverend Coleman-Singleton,

Reverend Simmons, and Reverend Middleton-Doctor

all came to share your lesson. You were calling forth

the word, that seed, broadcasting it

farther than you knew, and already

many hearts have hardened. Already, many deceivers

have brushed those seeds away; already,

the cares of the world have sought to overwhelm

that good seed, in our time of need, taking root.

Some have sought to persecute those tender shoots with fire,

seemingly unaware that such destruction is in fact,

an ancient farming technique. You warned us of this

with your next-to-last breath, but reminded us too

that wherever the seeds of justice fall

across this fertile land, a hundred more

one day will take root.


The massacre of nine people on Wednesday, June 17th at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a tragedy of national proportions. I feel strongly that this is a time for all Americans to act in whatever way we can to address the racial hatred that lives on in our country in ways both great and small. This is the seventh of a series of poems honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.

The words that open this poem are those of people who knew Myra Thompson, culled from various sources, including a story by ABC News. And though Buzzfeed noted only that she was the wife of Reverend Anthony Thompson, a vicar at Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopalian Church, the Charleston Post and Courier fills out her life and legacy in much greater detail. The Biblical scripture paraphrased in this poem is from Mark 4:14-20.


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