The Charleston streets were packed Friday just before 11 a.m., when officials announced that the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, held at TD Arena, was at capacity.
Thousands of mourners came from all over to remember Pinckney, one of nine people fatally shot inside Emanuel AME Church last Wednesday, according to The Post and Courier. The "Mother Emanuel" choir, hundreds strong, led roughly 6,000 people through rousing gospel standards between speakers who celebrated the legacy of Pinckney and his fellow churchgoers.
"Someone should have told the young man. He wanted to start a race war. But he came to the wrong place," The Right Rev. John Richard Bryant said to rounds of applause. A banner alongside Pinckney's closed coffin declared, "WRONG CHURCH! WRONG PEOPLE! WRONG DAY!"
As many braved the heat outside to hear prayer, a celebration of remembrance was taking place inside.
SEE PHOTOS FROM THE FUNERAL BELOW
"His powerful voice was a voice of reason for the hopeless," Rev. George Flowers, executive director of AME's Global Witness & Ministry, said of Pinckney. "He spoke up and spoke for those who cannot speak for themselves as they recognized they had no seat at the table.
"He shall be remembered," he said, "for his quick wit, his giant smile, and his enormous heart."
The services included special messages from Pinckney's daughters and wife. In a program obtained by WSPA, his daughter Malana said:
“I know you love me and I know that you know that I love you too. You have done so much for me. I can’t say it all. You will be watching over me and you will be in my heart.”
Pinckney’s oldest daughter, Eliana, said, “It is my dear father who passed away and although he may be gone, he’s there with me all day and night long. I will always remember and love you.”
President Obama, who knew Pinckney personally, offered a eulogy at the service, and was accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill.
Pickney was ordained as a minister at 18, and was also a state senator. He was considered one of the most respected figures in South Carolina before he died, Time reports.