In a series of racially motivated terrorist attacks this past week, a string of black churches in the U.S. have been destroyed by fire. Authorities have confirmed at least three of the attacks as arson.
All churches have had predominantly black congregations and are mostly situated in the southern U.S. where historic racial tensions run particularly deep.
The attacks came the week after nine people, including a U.S. State Senator, Clementa Pinckney, were shot dead by Dylann Roof in a racially charged terrorist attack. The assault took place in the historic, southern black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
President Obama said during a brief statement, “the fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history.”
“This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked,” President Obama added.
Indeed, the Atlantic newspaper also noted that the burning of Black American churches predates the American Civil War in 1861. According to the Huffington Post, since 1956 there have been at least 91 violent attacks on black churches in the United States.
The most infamous case occurred in 1963 when four white supremacists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama killing four young girls and injuring several more. The civil rights activist and humanitarian, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., called it “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”
Emma Green of the Atlantic newspaper wrote that such incidents are “often in association with racial violence: a highly visible attack on a core institution of the black community, often done at night, and often motivated by hate.”
The persecution of black ethnic minorities in the United States has been making world headlines often animated with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.