Funerals begin for 'Charleston Nine': Remembering Clementa Pinkney

Funerals begin for victims of the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday.

Eight days after the Charleston, S.C., shooting, funerals and memorials for the nine people massacred will begin Thursday.

The memorial service for Ethel Lance was scheduled for 11 a.m.  in North Charleston. Later Thursday, services for Sharonda Coleman-Singleton are scheduled. Funerals for the other seven victims of last week's shooting were scheduled to be held almost daily for the next week

President Barack Obama scheduled to deliver the eulogy at the memorial service for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Friday at 11 a.m. at TD Arena on the College of Charleston campus, reports the Associated Press.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported Obama eulogy for Reverend Pinckney, is potentially a big moment in the nation's conversation on race.

Almost seven years after the first black president was elected in a historic election that some hailed as ushering in a post-racial America, Obama's growing willingness to openly discuss America's fraught race relations in the final years of his presidency reflects a posture that, over the course of his tenure, has grown markedly more frank and frustrated.

"Racism – we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say [the N-word] in public," Obama said in an interview for the podcast "WTF with Marc Maron."

"That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior," he said, adding that "the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination" still exists and casts "a long shadow, and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on."

Dylann Storm Roof is charged with fatally shooting Pinckney and eight parishioners June 17 during a Bible study meeting at the basement of the church. The 21-year-old was arrested a day after the shooting.

On Wednesday, some 4,000 people filed past the casket of Pinckney, in the rotunda lobby of the South Carolina Capitol. The 41-year-old state legislator is the first African-American since Reconstruction in the late 1800s to rest in honor in South Carolina's Statehouse Rotunda.

Hours before the body was brought in, members and non-members gathered into the Emanuel AME church’s basement to attend the regular Wednesday night bible study.

"Because of our faith, we've shown up once more again to declare that Jesus lives and because he lives, we can face tomorrow," interim pastor Norvel Goff told a multiracial crowd.

Pinckney has been active in his religious community leadership since he was 13, according to Emanuel AME Church. He was a graduate of Allen University with a degree in Business Administration and held a Master’s in Public Administration.

Pinckney was also a longtime member of the state's Democratic Party. At the age of 23, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996 and in 2000 he was elected to the State Senate.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Since the shooting the Confederate symbols in the south have been under fire. On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley called on South Carolina lawmakers to vote to remove the Confederate battle flag flying in front of the Statehouse.

On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order that brought down the Confederate flag flying on Capitol grounds.

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