Anonymous donors give Charleston scholarship fund more than $3 million

Board will include mayor Joe Riley, professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

A gift from anonymous donors will establish a scholarship fund for people associated with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine people were shot and killed last month.

The scholarships will help families of the victims and members of the "extended" church community pay for both undergraduate and advanced degrees, say city officials. It is named after one of the victims, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

A statement from the anonymous donors says Pinckney "profoundly embodied the values that bind us together as Americans."

The fund will be overseen by a board that includes Charleston's mayor, Joe Riley; Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and investment banker William M. Lewis Jr.

Lewis praised the donors for remaining anonymous, which he says "appropriately focuses attention on the victims." He also says there was "no better way" to honor the memory of Pinckney.

Riley and Norvel Goff, the church's interim pastor, identified a positive irony in the otherwise unhappy situation. "Isn't it odd," says Goff, "that this individual who sought to divide us has brought us together more than ever before?" (Boughton, Post and Courier, 7/2; Heffernan, Charleston Regional Business Journal, 7/6; Blinder, New York Times, 7/2).

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