Two years before he was shot dead along with eight other victims in the church he led, Reverend Clementa Pinckney gave a haunting speech about what it means to be both American and Christian.
Pinckney, 41, a Democratic state senator for South Carolina’s 45th district, was the first victim identified in the massacre at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday night.
In October 2013, he gave a speech as part of the Civil Rights Ride 2013 saying that America “is about freedom…equality, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“And that’s what church is all about,” Pinckney continued. “Freedom to worship, and freedom from sin, freedom to be full [with] what God intends us to be, and have equality in the sight of God. And sometimes we’ve got to make noise to do that, sometimes maybe you have to die like Denmark Vesey to do that, sometimes you have to march, struggle and be unpopular to do that.”
Vesey was one of the church’s founders and organized an attempted slave rebellion in 1822, for which he was executed.
In the speech, Pinckney also discussed why he was called to public service. “There are many people who say why would you as a preacher be involved in public life?” he said. “Our calling is not just within the walls of the congregation, but we’re part of the life and community in which our congregation resides.”