On the warm evening of Wednesday June 17th 2015, a 21 year old white male racist by the name of Dylann Roof shot dead 9 worshippers in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. One of these nine God-fearing victims was the Pastor of that church and South Carolina state senator, the Honorable Reverend Clementa Carlos Pinckney. The 41 year old Pinckney leaves behind wife Jennifer Pinckney and their two daughters Eliana Yvette Pinckney and Malana Elise Pinckney.
Clementa Carlos Pinckney
Several days after the mass shooting, on Friday June 26th, the then President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, gave a eulogy at his funeral. The eulogy took place at the College of Charleston in the TD Arena, also in Charleston, South Carolina. The eulogy was just over half an hour and, from such a skilled and distinguished orator as Obama, it was expectedly moving but it was also uplifting, with many seeds of hope and solidarity spread throughout. The speech is well worth a look, if only to see the devotion on the faces of the congregation.
Obama begins the speech in a somewhat Islamic manner, with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God.” In Islam we have the common phrase “Al-ham-du-lil-lah”, which means “All praise and thanks be to Allah”. I knew from these opening words alone that this was to be a stirring speech.
Anyways, below are some of my favourite quotes from the eulogy, as well as a video link to the entire eulogy itself:
- Giving all praise and honor to God. – the opening words from President Obama
- By making the moral choice to change, we express God’s grace. (Applause) We don’t earn grace. We’re all sinners. We don’t deserve it. (Applause) But God gives it to us anyway. (Applause) And we choose how to receive it. It’s our decision how to honor it.
- Clem was often asked why he chose to be a pastor AND a public servant. But the person who asked probably didn’t know the history of the AME church. (Applause) As our brothers and sisters in the AME church know, we don’t make those distinctions. “Our calling,” Clem once said, “is not just within the walls of the congregation, but the life and community in which our congregation resides.” (Applause) He embodied the idea that our Christian faith demands deeds and not just words; that the “sweet hour of prayer” actually lasts the whole week long — (applause) — that to put our faith in action is more than individual salvation, it’s about our collective salvation; that to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless is not just a call for isolated charity but the imperative of a just society.
- Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other…my liberty depends on you being free, too.
- History can’t be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, how to break the cycle. A roadway toward a better world.
- Reverend Pinckney once said, “Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history. We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”