Hundreds of mourners paid their respects on Thursday to the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine people gunned down in a suspected racially motivated attack on a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.
Pinckney was shot to death along with eight others when alleged gunman Dylann Roof opened fire at a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest and most influential African-American churches in the U.S., on June 17.
“Here in Charleston, South Carolina, one man tried – and failed – to bring about turmoil and strife to divide the people,” Mark Tillman, general president of the fraternity to which Pinckney belonged for more than 20 years, Alpha Phi Alpha, told mourners.
“But what he has done is brought us together,” Tillman said, to applause.
Pinckney was pastor at Emanuel AME and began preaching in the church in his teens. The 41-year-old married father of two also served in the South Carolina Senate and was at one time the youngest member of the state House when he was first elected at 23 in 1996.
Pinckney was named pastor at the church, popularly referred to as Mother Emanuel, in 2010. A microphone was placed in Pinckney’s hand as the body lay in an open casket at the church Thursday.
President Barack Obama is to give the eulogy at Pinckney’s funeral on Friday. First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will also attend the funeral. Former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will also attend.