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May 17, 2016

Brothers of Emanuel victim start literacy foundation in her name

Originally published by ABC News 4

By: Stacy Jacobson

As the one-year anniversary of the Emanuel AME shooting draws near, one of the victim’s families is announcing a big venture in her honor that’s kicking off in two cities, Charleston and Charlotte.

Cynthia Graham Hurd’s life was filled with her library and its books.

“She loved reading. Before there was the Internet, she probably read every edition of the world encyclopedia A through Z,” her brother Malcolm Graham said.

But even in her death, her brothers are making sure her priorities are still in focus. Hurd was one of nine parishioners killed at Emanuel AME Church June 17, 2015.

“We’re here today to announce as a family were going to establish the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for literacy and reading civic engagement,” he said.

The foundation will continue Hurd’s work as a county librarian for 31 years and a passionate reader and teacher.

“Our objective is to get books in the hands of any pre-school age kids that need it so they can begin to be educated learn by reading at an early age,” he said.

“We want to start it with money and we want to start it with books,” said Melvin Graham, announcing he and his brothers were donating $5,000 and 315 books to start off a June donation drive.

The foundation is working with the group Reading Partners to collect donations in Charleston and Charlotte.

Hurd’s brother Malcolm Graham lives in the Charlotte area and said she was very connected with his family and that area.

“We work in the Charleston area with over 700 students every week at risk of reading failure. One thing we do is send home books to build a culture of literacy to give them an opportunity to practice at home. Many of our students don’t have home libraries in home and they start behind before they enter kindergarten because of this. So this work we’re doing today, starting this book drive, is super exciting for us,” Reading Partners director Kecia Greenho said.

“I want to thank to community for all it’s given to us and to Cynthia. I know if she was here, she’d go ‘wow,'” Melvin Graham said.

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