Remembering Rev. Pinckney

To know the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney was to know a true man of God. While I did not have the opportunity to work with him in the State Senate like Sen. Coleman did, I was able to work with Clem on several issues that affected our constituents, his in the Lowcountry, and you, citizens here in the Midlands.

In the hurried world we live in, I never paused to think about it as we worked together on issues like rural health care and fighting voter ID laws, but getting to know Clem was a rewarding experience. His genuine humility, the fact that he never raised his voice, the grace by which he carried himself, he was truly the personification of a Christian man.

The week before the act of inhumanity that took his life and the life of eight others, I ran into Clem at a restaurant in downtown Columbia. He was with two ladies from his church, treating them to lunch because they had come to visit him while the Senate was in session. I didn’t want to interrupt so attempted to briefly speak, but being Clem Pinckney, he stood up, introduced his friends and out of genuine care, asked how I was doing, wanted to know how a mutual friend from Winnsboro was, and then asked for an update as to what I am doing.

A week to the day later, when Clem was gunned down in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, I and many others lost a friend, a wife lost a husband, two beautiful girls lost a father, a church lost a pastor, the AME denomination lost a leader and our state lost a selfless statesman. He is gone from this earth, but he undoubtedly walks with his Lord in the streets of Heaven.

When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, his brother Ted eulogized him by requesting this: “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it[.]”

The same can be said about Reverend/Senator Clementa Pinckney. We cannot overstate his stature, he was a giant; we cannot exaggerate his compassion, he adhered to the Golden Rule. He was a good and decent man, who tried to heal the suffering of others, who searched for the common bonds that unite us, rather than divide us. What more can we ask of our leaders? His life should be an example to us all.

Boyd Brown is a former state legislator from Fairfield County.

He resides in Ridgeway.