Hiram College professor Jason Johnson was quoted by Buzzfeed in the article “They Saw an Anointed One” about the life of State Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
After visiting Pinckney’s childhood home during that summer on the campaign trail, Johnson still couldn’t understand why Pinckney — a man of considerable smarts, charisma, and work ethic — decided to return home instead of moving somewhere like Washington, D.C., or Atlanta, and making lots of money.
“A lot of men and women who are black who come from that part of the country, they leave,” Johnson said. “They get that degree and they’re out of there. The racial and economic oppression is so intense that a lot of people don’t want to stay.”
Johnson couldn’t believe the condition of Pinckney’s childhood home: “It’s not a stretch to say that it was a shack,” he said. Most of the neighboring homes were just as decrepit. There were few good jobs. The climate, both literally and politically, was generally inhospitable. It didn’t make sense for Pinckney to be there, let alone with a wife and two children.
“It’s really amazing that you had someone with all of his talent and ability say, ‘No, I actually want to build my life here,’” said Johnson. “Not because he didn’t have any other options, but because, at his core, he cared about that community.”