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Mon, 07.30.1973

South Carolina’s son, Clementa Pinckney

Clementa Pickney

*Clementa Pinckney was born on this date in 1973.  He was an African American minister and politician.

Clementa Carlos Pinckney was born in Beaufort, South Carolina. His mother, Theopia Stevenson Aikens was an early childhood development educator, and his father, John Pinckney, was an auto mechanic. Pinckney had six brothers and sisters and was named in honor of baseball player Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates due to his mother's love of baseball.  He began preaching at his church at age 13.

Pinckney's maternal family, the Stevenson’s, has many generations of pastors in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His maternal great-grandfather, Reverend Lorenzo Stevenson, brought a lawsuit against the state's Democratic Party to end segregated primaries. During the Civil Rights movement, Pinckney's maternal uncle, Reverend Levern Stevenson, worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to desegregate school buses, and sued South Carolina Governor John C. West to create single-member districts to help elect more blacks into the South Carolina General Assembly.  Pinckney's paternal family, based in the Beaufort, South Carolina area are possible descendants of slaves owned by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.  The slave owner was instrumental in framing the United States Constitution and was part of the Middleton-Rutledge-Pinckney family, that included many politicians. Also, the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is where the plantation was located.

Pinckney went to Jasper County High School, where he was elected class president for two years.  After high school, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Allen University in 1995 and went on to obtain a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of South Carolina in 1999.   He then received a Master of Divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.  Pinckney was first elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1996 at the age of 23, becoming the youngest black elected as a South Carolina state legislator.

In 1999, Pinckney married Jennifer Pinckney (née Benjamin) in Augusta, Georgia. They met while he was at Allen University and she was at the University of South Carolina.  The couple lived in Ridgeland, South Carolina with their two daughters, Eliana Yvette and Malana Elise. Pinckney was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.  He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives until being elected to the South Carolina Senate in 2000.  He was on the following Committees: Banking and Insurance, Corrections and Penology, Education, Finance, and Medical Affairs.  As a state senator, he pushed for laws to require police and other law enforcement officials to wear body cameras.  He was a senior pastor at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston.

On June 17, 2015, he spent the earlier part of that day campaigning with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Charleston.  That evening, he led a Bible study and prayer session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, when, Dylann Roof, attending specifically asked for Pinckney and later opened fire on the congregation, killing Pinckney and eight others.  U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy at Pinckney's funeral nine days later. During his eulogy, multiple friends and family pronounced his first name as "Clemen-tay". Pinckney was buried in Marion, South Carolina at the St. James AME Cemetery. Pinckney was a student at Wesley Theological Seminary pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at the time of his death.

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