Survivors of the recent Charleston shooting, along with other members of Mother Emanuel AME Church, on Monday wrapped up a visit to Atlanta, where they visited several local landmarks and met some special guests.
While taking in lunch at Big Bethel AME Church, the visitors — many of whom are Falcons fans — enjoyed an appearance from Julio Jones, Phillip Adams, Cliff Matthews, Jonathon Mincy and Ricardo Allen, who waited behind a curtain before surprising the crowd.
"Having the Falcons team come over and surprise us the way they did — we couldn't have asked for anything more," said Sharon Coakley of Mother Emanuel. "This has all been very fantastic. The kids loved it; they love taking the pictures and the autographs."
The Falcons players in attendance spent time taking pictures, signing autographs and getting to know the people of Mother Emanuel, and by doing so contributed to the healing process the church's community — and the black community at-large — is enduring.
"Just to show the people here we support them here in Atlanta. It was an emotional experience that everyone went through in their own kind of way," said Jones. "Because this could have happened anywhere. I look at it like it could have happened back home in Alabama. You have to show people that you support them and you're here for them."