A Democrat serving Charleston’s 45th district, at the age of 23 he became the youngest African-American ever elected to the state’s legislature. He was also a longtime minister, having started preaching at the age of 13, and served as a pastor at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the shooting. He was leading a Bible study at the time of the attack.
Reverend Joseph Darby, the presiding elder for AME churches in the area, called Pinckney an “advocate for the people,” adding that he was “a very caring and competent pastor, and he was a very brave man.”
Among the many instances of his leadership, Pinckney lead a prayer vigil for Walter Scott, the African-American man whose brutal shooting death by a police officer in nearby South Charleston was caught on video.
Following Scott’s death, Pinkney campaigned for police body cameras in the state senate. The bill eventually passes, making mandatory body cameras for all South Carolina police officers a reality.