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Funerals Begin At Emanuel AME Church For Bible Study Shooting Victims

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Pastor Clementa Pinckney will be laid to rest today. He's one of nine people gunned down last week in what authorities have called a racially motivated attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. President Obama will be there to deliver the eulogy for Pastor Pinckney. And this is sound from one of two funeral services for two other church members yesterday in Charleston. NPR's David Schaper was there.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) He's perfect too.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: To her sorority sisters and teammates at South Carolina State, she was known as Tookie (ph). At Goose Creek High School, 45-year-old Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was Coach Singleton. In eulogizing her fellow teacher and track coach, Joe Hauff said she called students her kids.

JOE HAUFF: Because she would use little phrases such as come on, sugar love, I know you can get through this.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHAPER: Singleton also ministered at Mother Emanuel AME where she and the others were attending Bible study last Wednesday night when authorities say 21-year-old Dylann Roof pulled out a gun and opened fire. Among the dignitaries eulogizing Singleton at her packed funeral was Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAYOR JOE RILEY: A hateful, delusioned young man came into the church filled with hate and the reaction was love.

SCHAPER: At earlier services for 70-year-old Ethel Lance, grandson Brandon Risher also noted that hate took his grandmother's life, but that she is a symbol of love.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRANDON RISHER: As you go to your families, that you look at each other and say whatever hate we have, it's unnecessary.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHAPER: At sundown in downtown Charleston, a line stretched two-and-a-half blocks from Mother Emanuel AME Church for the viewing of Pastor Clementa Pinckney. Gertrude Washington found the mood inside...

GERTRUDE WASHINGTON: It was a little somber, a little sad, but when I saw Reverend Pinckney, he had a smile. There was a smile on his face, so I'm sure he's at peace.

SCHAPER: The somber healing in Charleston continues with Pinckney's funeral today, which President Obama and the first lady will attend along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. David Schaper, NPR News, Charleston, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

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