Anonymous out-of-state donors gave $3 million to a scholarship in honor of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was shot along with eight others at a predominantly black Charleston, South Carolina, church last month. The donation was announced on Thursday by the mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley.
The scholarship will provide college and advanced degree scholarships to members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church, where the shooting occurred. The Pinckney scholarship fund is joined by a fund to provide assistance and funerals to the families of the victims, which has seen $1.2 million in donations so far.
"We do not pretend to understand the pain caused by this unimaginable tragedy. We simply want members of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community to know that the burdens of perseverance and empathy, which they have demonstrated with such dignity, do not fall exclusively on their shoulders,” the anonymous donors said in a statement. “We want them to know that others, most of whom do not share their race or religion, who do not come from South Carolina, abhor the injustices from which they have suffered and admire the ways the African-American community has enriched our nation. We honor Reverend Pinckney who so profoundly embodied the values that bind us together as Americans.”
The shooting on June 17 has sparked a national conversation about race and the appropriateness of flying the Confederate battle flag on government property. The suspected shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, is in police custody in South Carolina awaiting charges. He was caught while fleeing in North Carolina and could face federal hate crime charges.
President Barack Obama delivered an impassioned eulogy at last week's funeral for Pinckney, who was also a state senator. Obama spoke about race relations in the United States and sang, without accompaniment, "Amazing Grace."