Barack Obama

time 100 2016 Barack Obama
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Public servant

At one point during my husband’s funeral service, while watching my daughters, President Obama said to Mrs. Obama, “Look at those girls. Don’t they remind you of ours?” It hit home for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the thought had crossed his mind: Where would my girls be if something happened to me?

President Obama and my husband were two God-fearing, charismatic black men dedicated to public service and to their wives and two daughters. They were both voices for the voiceless who got up with smiles when they got knocked down. Of course, there were differences. President Obama loves basketball, and Clem was a terrible athlete!

And, of course, my husband wasn’t the President. He might have gone on to be a bishop or a Congressman. Who knows? As President Obama exhorted us, we hold on to him—all of us, even the President, I believe—because through that love, God is with us.

Pinckney survived the 2015 shooting in Charleston, S.C., that killed her husband, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at