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Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) joined fellow elected officials today, Monday, Feb. 1, to announce the nomination of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, S.C., the scene of horrific racial violence, for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

A white man opened fire in the historic black church the night of June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including a pastor, during a prayer meeting. The suspect, Dylann Roof, was arrested for what authorities call a hate crime. He has also been charged with nine counts of murder.

“It was stunning that this horrific shooting would occur so soon after the 50th anniversary of the March in Selma,” Kelly said at the announcement on Monday, Feb. 1. “Yet the grief-stricken congregation’s response to such unbelievable hatred was forgiveness. They showed the world that the power of love and forgiveness conquers acts of hate and evil.

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“Their solidarity spurred an act of racial healing that had previously seemed politically impossible — the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol. Their humbling display of compassion and humanity inspired people around the world,” Kelly noted.

The nomination letter to the Nobel Committee was signed by Kelly, along with Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Bobby Rush, Tammy Duckworth and Mike Quigley of Illinois. Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli led the coalition to nominate Emanuel AME Church.

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