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Pinckney portrait unveiled

  • Jennifer Pinckney and daughters Eliana and Malana embrace after the unveiling of the portrait of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney at the state Capitol on May 25. (AP photo)

 

A portrait of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney at one of his favorite places will hang in another place he held dear.

Pinckney’s portrait was unveiled May 25 in a ceremony with colleagues, friends and family packing the South Carolina Senate chamber.

The painting depicts Pinckney in Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston with light beaming through a stained glass window.

Pinckney was leading a nighttime Bible study at the church when he died in along with eight others last June 17. Police said they were gunned down by a man motivated by racial hatred.

Pinckney’s two young daughters pulled the purple drape off the portrait by Larry Lebby.

The elder, Eliana, put her arm around her mother, whose voice waivered as she spoke of her late husband.

Jennifer Pinckney said the tributes for his public service were “just a small, small sliver of a great gentle giant of a man who always made a smile and who spoke with authority.”

Sen. Gerald Malloy recalled how his friend helped the less fortunate in his public life and saved souls in his spiritual life.

“When we look at the portrait of Sen. Pinckney, we need to be reminded of both how he lived and why he was killed in a massacre,” Malloy said. “He was killed because of ignorance and intolerance.”

Pinckney is only the second African-American to be honored among the roughly 30 portraits in the Senate chamber.

The other is a fellow pastor I. DeQuincey Newman, who in 1983 became South Carolina’s first black senator since Reconstruction.

Malloy said Pinckney’s portrait means his voice will always boom over the Senate he loved.

“He still talks,” Malloy said. “He speaks to us about what we should strive for. And the potential cost for standing for what we believe in.”

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