9 Things to Know About Charleston Church Shooting Victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Photo by Emanuel AME Church
Rev. Pinckney, who had been a pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, leaves behind a lasting legacy.

Shortly after a gunman opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., reports came out that among the nine killed was Rev. Clementa Pinckney. 

The 41-year-old was a staple at the historic church, where he began preaching at the age of 13. An outspoken community leader, he served in the South Carolina legislature for nearly 20 years. Here are nine things to know about the pastor, husband and father. We continue to send our prayers to the victims and their families.

1. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters
The Reverend leaves behind two daughters, Eliana and Malana, and his wife of 16 years, Jennifer Pinckney. Clementa and Jennifer met during college. [Source]

2. He became a pastor when he was 18
Pinckney began preaching at Mother Emanuel the age of 13. Determined to stay committed to his love for the church, he was appointed as a pastor at the church when he was 18. [Source]

3. He held three degrees
Pinckney graduated from Allen University in 1995, where he earned a Bachelors degree in business administration. He continued his education at the University of South Carolina, where he received a Masters degree in public administration. He earned his Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He went on to study public policy and international affairs at Princeton University as a summer research fellow. [Source]

4. He was elected to the South Carolina House at the age of 23
After working as a page in the South Carolina House of Representatives for two years, Pinckney was elected to the House in 1996 at the age of 23, making him the youngest representative in the state's history. Four years later, he won a seat in the Senate. [Source]

5. His wife piqued his interest in politics
Pinkney has said that his fiancé was the main supporter in his political life. “In fact, she was a major impact on my running,” he told the Savannah Morning News in 1999. “She knows how much politics and being involved and helping people mean to me. She said I’d be a fool not to run. She said, ‘Are you crazy? You better run.’” [Source]

6. He pushed for police body cameras
In recent months, Pickney had been an outspoken proponent in the state Senate urging lawmakers to pass legislation requiring that all police officers wear body cameras. "Body cameras help to record what happens," he said while campaigning for a bill he co-sponsored. "It may not be the golden ticket, the golden egg, the end-all-fix-all, but it helps to paint a picture of what happens during a police stop." [Source]

7. He participated in a prayer vigil for Walter Scott
In a tweet last night, the Rev. Al Sharpton announced that Pinckney had helped lead a prayer vigil after Walter Scott was fatally shot by Officer Michael Slager in April. Friends and colleagues have said that Pinckney had been outspoken in the Black Lives Matter movement. [Source]

8. Hours before the shooting, he had campaigned for Hillary Clinton
Just hours before he was killed, Pinckney had campaigned for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was in Charleston that day. During her campaign rally, she spoke on the death of Walter Scott, the Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in April, calling it a "terrible tragedy." Pinckney left the rally to attend bible study at the church, which is when the shooting occurred. [Source]

9. He one said that ministering was his first love
Deeply tied to spreading wisdom throughout his community, Pinckney saw ministry as an extension of himself. “It’s all about service. In the community, in the African-American community, one person ought to say something and that is the minister,” he said to the Savannah Morning News in 1999. “The minister is paid by the people. He doesn’t work for a big company. He doesn’t represent a particular special interest.” [Source]

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