Clyburn Statement on the Charleston Massacre Anniversary

Jun 17, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn today released the following statement on the first anniversary of the Charleston Massacre:

“Today marks the first anniversary of the Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.  This heinous crime was deeply impactful, and the response of the families and community has been even more impactful.

“As an AME congregant, a former resident of Charleston and Representative of the Low-Country in the U.S. House, I feel a deep and abiding connection to Charleston and the Low-Country.  The victims of that horrific crime were our friends and neighbors and my constituents.  Their deaths pained me in profound and personal ways and the wounds to our community will take time to heal.

“On the night of June 17, 2015, my friend and Co-Worker Reverend Clementa Pinckney left his service in the state senate to travel to Charleston to fulfill his calling of  tending to his flock at Mother Emanuel AME Church’s regular Wednesday night Bible study.  Rev. Pinckney was a tremendous leader in our community.  Several weeks prior to that night, I had been with Rev. Pinckney at a service in North Charleston after the police shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott.  Rev. Pinckney’s ministry at that event made a tremendous difference in defusing a very tense time and helped restore calm and allow the local authorities to exert justice  on a most unjust situation.  Into that Bible study entered an uninvited outsider.  Though he was a stranger, he was embraced by the worshippers who welcomed him into their weekly exploration of their faith.  Yet that hate-filled young man shunned their neighborly embrace and conducted an act of violence so heinous the horror has been immeasurable.  

“I have been extremely proud of the resilience and compassion shown by the people of Charleston and South Carolina following the horrific attack at Mother Emanuel on June 17 last year.  The survivors of the attack and the families of the victims have been an inspiration to their communities, our state and the whole nation.  While the Charleston community has rallied together, as we approach the first anniversary of the Emanuel AME church massacre, we must stay vigilant and continue providing the proper support for the survivors and victims.”