A portrait of slain State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was unveiled in the South Carolina Senate chamber during a Wednesday ceremony.
Pinckney was one of nine parishioners gunned down last during a Bible study class at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last June. Senators voted the next day to honor him with a portrait in the upper gallery.
Pinckney’s two young daughters unveiled the portrait. His widow Jennifer told the chamber that the senator would consider himself unworthy to be classified with such greatness, if he had been present. “You are well deserving to be hung with greatness, because you are great,” she said in a message for her late husband. “This is just a small, small snippet of the great, gentle giant of a man who always wore a smile.”
The late senator’s grandmother Gracie Broom, sang “Amazing Grace” at the unveiling ceremony.
A Senate committee chose artist Larry Lebby to paint the portrait. His other pieces in the Statehouse include paintings of South Carolina civil rights heroes Benjamin E. Mays and Modjeska Simkins.
There are 30 individuals honored with a portrait in the Senate, including U.S. Sens. Strom Thurmond and John C. Calhoun. Pinckney is only the second African-American to be placed inside the chamber, after former state senator and civil rights leader I. DeQuincey Newman. Another 35 portraits hang in the House.
There are five portraits in the Senate chamber and gallery that honor politicians who died in office. Another recognizes former Gov. Pierce Butler, who was killed in a Mexican War battle after leaving office.