S.C. State Senator Paul Thurmond (Courtesy Photo)
S.C. State Senator Paul Thurmond (Courtesy Photo)
S.C. State Senator Paul Thurmond

What finally opened Paul Thurmond’s eyes and changed his heart was in the Gospel of Mark — the very New Testament passage that his state Senate colleague Clementa Pinckney and eight other members of Emanuel AME Church here were studying the night they were gunned down in an apparent racist hate crime.

It was the parable of the sower, in which Jesus explains that if a seed falls on fertile ground, it can yield thirty- or sixty- or a hundredfold.

“I thought it spoke to my public service,” Thurmond said Monday in an interview. “I kept thinking about the circumstances. I kept praying about what had happened, and there was this really true belief that good could come out of this horrible tragedy.”

The next morning, with that verse fresh in his mind, the 39-year-old Republican legislator wrote the speech he would deliver the following day on the Senate floor, calling for the Confederate battle flag to be taken down from the state capitol grounds.


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