Eulogy: For Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor







My beautiful songbird

She’s going to be missed in church, in school, everywhere

Always a warm and enthusiastic leader

A gracious person who always had time for people

When people said ‘pray for me,’ she would stop and pray right there

She prayed for that young man

Faced with that danger, she gave praise

We know she did

We know where she is

Columbia College, BA in biology;

Southern Wesleyan University, master’s in management;

Community Development Block Grant Program, director;

Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, minister; choir member; mother

of four. You were planning to take your daughter to basketball practice.

You were planning to study for the AME ministry, like your father

before. You were planning on ushering kids into college–

you’d just taken that job in admissions, after years of writing grants.

What are applications but supplications?

What are grants but prayers on paper?

You always placed yourself, it seems, at the gates of a dream.

You understood that if you want something, you must ask for it, clearly,

and your family has asked this, clearly, of us–

that we move away from the sidelines and unite,

regardless of faith, to seek an end to hatred;

that we remove the Confederate flag

from the statehouse grounds;

that we recognize the connection

between racism, hate crimes, and racialized policing;

that we see see this attack on their family

as an attack on ours. Let these prayers come to pass,

on earth as it is in heaven, and as we approach the gates,

Reverend Doctor,

let our actions speak louder than words.


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 ninth and final poem of a series honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.

The words that open this poem are those of Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor’s friends, family, and coworkers. The details of her life and professional career are from an article by the Charleston Post and Courier and a statement from Southern Wesleyan University, where Doctor had recently taken a job as an admissions counselor, and which officials recently announced will offer full four-year scholarships to each of DePayne’s children. The words that conclude this poem are paraphrased from a powerful statement issued by Middleton Doctor’s family following her death. I encourage you to read the rest of it here.


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