The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Relatives say Cynthia Graham Hurd, killed in Charleston church shooting, ‘was not a victim’

Cynthia Hurd in Charleston, S.C. (Adam Ferrell/Post and Courier via AP)
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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Malcolm Graham, 52, the brother of Cynthia Graham Hurd, said his sister would have celebrated her 55th birthday Sunday.

“Cynthia was a matriarch of the family,” he said Friday, “the glue that kept the family together.”

Her husband, Steve Hurd, a merchant seaman, is expected to be arriving in Charleston on Saturday morning.

Graham said his sister was the ultimate librarian.

“She was always in someone’s business,” he said. “When she told a story, it went on and on and on because she included the research and all the footnotes.”

[Remembering the Charleston shooting victims]

Cynthia was born in Charleston and never really left the neighborhood. She worked in several libraries here. Cynthia and her siblings were raised in Emmanuel AME church, where their mother sang in the choir.

Graham said that the family was grateful that their sister died in the church she loved so much.

“Having her in church that night at Bible study, taught me about the Lord,” he said. “If we had to lose our sister, losing her in church was the right place. … She was in church that night, she was in the company of God. She was trying to help somebody.

“She was not a victim,” he continued. “She was a Christian. She was a soldier. She was warrior. She was with her maker when she took her last breath. God bless our sister and this community.”

[“I forgive you." Relatives of the victims address the suspected shooter]

Family members in the crowd wept as their brother spoke.

Graham said when he heard about the shooting, he had a bad feeling. Because his sister was always at Bible study on Wednesday night.

“I called her at 11,” he said. “I called her cell. She didn’t answer. I had a sick feeling. I knew she would be there.”