In a poignant op-ed for The New York Times, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recalls his time spent with Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the South Carolina state senator and leader of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church who was among the nine people gunned down in his historic church. Gates, who chairs the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards jury, interviewed Pinckney three years ago for his PBS series’ “The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,” on the legacy of black leaders in the post-Civil War South.
A small snippet:
To know him, even over the course of an autumn Carolina afternoon, was to know a man who cherished the values on which our republic was founded, and who held an abiding faith that the great promise of America could, one day, be fulfilled. He was a unifier who, this past spring, taught us how to mourn in communion with one another, following the police slaying of Walter L. Scott, a black man, just north of his city. I don’t believe that he had the capacity to imagine the depth of malice and anger that came down on his congregation, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, on Wednesday night.
Read the rest of his op-ed here. Below, watch Pinckney discuss the importance of black political participation in an interview with Gates: