Two white horses carried Clementa Pinckney, the revered South Carolina state senator and pastor who was killed with eight others in a Charleston church, to the Statehouse on Wednesday, passing the Confederate flag that has sparked national debate about Civil War symbols in the South.
A row of legislators stood under the Corinthian granite columns of the stately capitol, gazing down as hundreds of Columbia residents escorted Pinckney’s mahogany casket to the state rotunda.
As members of the honor guard carried Pinckney’s casket into the Statehouse, the crowd sang “We Shall Overcome.”
Ann Shephard, 65, an African American Columbia resident stood in the 90-degree heat in black mourning clothes, sobbing as she held up a black parasol. “A cloud has been over me since this happened,” she said after the casket passed. “I look at it from every angle and it doesn’t make sense to me.”
Hundreds filed patiently through the capitol’s lush grounds, clinging to the shade of palmetto and magnolia trees, and then up the marble stairway to pay their respects to Pinckney, who lay in a coffin on the marble floor between the chambers for the House and Senate, where he served for nearly two decades.
“This line of people, in and of itself, signifies the impact of his life,” said Russell Patterson, 30, an Atlanta graduate student who had attended Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and drove three hours to attend the memorial.
Dressed in a black suit, white shirt, red tie and gold cuff links, Pinckney was surrounded by red roses, white day lilies and eucalyptus. His wife and family, dressed in black, stood by his side.
“He looks like he’s just sleeping there,” said Tiffny Palmore, 28, a doctor’s assistant from Columbia who had stood in line since before 9 a.m. with her mother and six children. “It still doesn’t take away the pain.”
One day earlier, legislators had convened in the capitol and voted to hold a debate later in the summer on removing the Confederate flag that flies on Statehouse grounds. Many said their focus now is to grieve and pay tribute to the senator.
Source: Los Angeles Times | JENNY JARVIE