Approximately 200 Durham activists and community members gathered Saturday afternoon to commemorate the victims of the recent shooting in Charleston, S.C.

The gathering—which was organized by the Durham Solidarity Center and several other affiliated groups—occurred in Long Meadow Park and called for an end to white supremacy with speeches, signs and spoken word poems. It came after the killing of nine black churchgoers Wednesday night at a bible study in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“These were nine beautiful people who did everything America said they had to do right,” activist Desmera Gatewood said in a speech to the crowd.

The shooter, Dylann Roof, was arrested Thursday in Shelby, N.C. and has been charged with nine counts of murder. A manifesto reportedly written by Roof was discovered Saturday. Filled with racial slurs and white supremacist language, the document is now under review by the FBI. The case is currently being investigated as a hate crime by the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Thursday.

Gatewood's speech Saturday connected the Charleston massacre to a broader notion of race relations and what it means to be black in America.

“You do not have to wake up and wonder which person that looks like you died today, and it’s as simple as that. There is a beauty being black, but there’s also a terror that you cannot culturally appropriate,” she said. "Social consciousness only happens when you reject the lavish, privileged life that you have gotten as a result of racism."

Other speakers at the event—representing organizations that included Muslims for Social Justice, Workers World and Black Workers for Justice—emphasized that the murders must be seen as a product of America's racism.

Experts agreed, noting that the massacre occurred within a context of racism centered around black congregations.

“There is a long, sad history of anti-black violence, bombings and arson aimed at black churches, which function as the beating theological, social, political and even economic heart of many black communities,” said Valerie Cooper, associate professor of black church studies, in a Duke News release.

The oldest AME church in the South, Emanuel AME has had a long history of resilience in the face of racial violence. In the 19th century, the church was rebuilt after being burned down by white supremacists for its association with Denmark Vesey, the leader of a planned slave revolt. Worshipers at the church resumed services Sunday.

In an email to the University community Friday, President Richard Brodhead wrote that “the shooting…defies explanation or understanding.” He called on community members to “strive to bring understanding and healing through our words and deeds.”