CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Family and friends are remembering the life and legacy of McKinley Washington, Jr.
A husband, father, activist, state lawmaker, senator, pastor, and more, Reverend Washington lived 85 years and paved the way for a better future for many Americans.
Born on August 8th, 1936, in Maysville, S.C., Rev. Washington grew up on a farm with seven siblings. He studied at Johnson C. Smith University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Divinity.
According to statehouse records, Washington was a champion of religious and personal freedom for all people under the law.
Washington Jr. served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1975 until 1990, representing Charleston District 116. He was later elected to represent Senate District 45, including several Lowcountry counties, from 1990 until 2000.
Throughout his career, he also served as the Reverend for Edisto Presbyterian Church and raised two children with his wife, Beulah.
Washington is also the founder of the Edisto chapter of the NAACP.
“I mean he had the most genuine way about him and he was an activist. And when I say that, I think a lot of times I get misconstrued. What I mean by that is he was actively involved in his community,” said State Representative JA Moore.
Friends and family of Rev. Washington shared stories with News 2 and all agreed that Rev. Washington was a true public servant.
“Senator Washington was a champion for the people of this state. Not just for African Americans, not just his constituents, not just his parishioners, but the entire state,” said Rep. Moore.
“He just loved people,” said Rev. Pat Jones, a long-time friend of Washington. “He was truly…He had a servant’s heart. He was a true servant. Not only in the community, but in the life of the church as well.”
“As a giant of a man, my dad could do anything,” said Katrina Knight, Washington’s daughter. “There was nothing that my dad could not do.”
His record of service shows that. But for a while, Knight had a different view of Washington.
“Being so young, I did not realize what my father was doing for everyone. I only knew him as my dad. He was daddy.”
While Knight was young, Washington already had a list of accomplishments under his belt.
News 2 asked what friends and family thought Washington would be most proud of in his career.
“He led the charge to integrate not only Edisto Beach but all state parks so people of all races could see the natural beauty,” said Rev. Jones.
People close to Rev. Washington could talk about his life for hours, but for now, they share the legacy he leaves behind.
“One of service. One of service…And his love for all people,” said Rev. Jones.
“I’ve never seen… I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that was as genuine as my dad. I don’t have anyone to compare,” said Knight.
Washington’s family is working to arrange details of a service. That information will be shared once it is made available.