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Thursday, October 27, 2016

President Obama ended his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in a way best befitting a man of the cloth: by singing “Amazing Grace.”

He began the song solo, a lone, low-toned voice gone hoarse after a half-hour of impassioned speaking, and after a few seconds, the audience and an organ joined in on the hymn — a gospel standard written by a reformed slave trader who found God. The president then switched to what might have been the most emotional moment of the entire speech — shouting out the names of each of the victims and tying it into the song.

“Clementa Pickney found that grace! Cynthia Hurd found that grace! Susie Jackson found that grace!” he shouted, listing everyone who was murdered last week in the Charleston shootings.

Grace was the theme of this speech, which also touched on race, gun control, and the Confederate flag.

“For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of a system of oppression and racial segregation,” he said, and praised South Carolina governor Nikki Haley for her remarks earlier this week.

Throughout his speech, the president’s words were punctuated by applause, amens, and fervent expressions of “Yes!” from the assembled congregation.

Calling Rev. Pinckney “a good man,” Obama used the eulogy not only to praise the state senator, but to call out the systematic injustices that underpinned both the lives of those who were killed and the killer, whom he did not name.

For too long we have been blind to how past injustices have continued to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions. About how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty or attend dilapidated schools or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career. Perhaps it causes us to examine what we’re doing to cause some of our children to hate.

“God works in mysterious ways,” he said to cheers, referring to the fact that out of the killer’s stated intention of starting a race war emerged a movement for change, compassion, and “more importantly, […] a thoughtful introspection and self-examination that we so rarely see in public life.”

“Blinded by hate, that killer could not see the grace surrounding Rev. Pinckney and that Bible study group, the light of love that shone as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger to join in their prayer circle. The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court in the midst of unspeakable grief, with words of forgiveness. He couldn’t imagine that.”

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  • FT66

    I’m very proud of this President. He is all weather. Very talented in suiting himself in any kind of event.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Few things these days bring tears to my eyes. But, this president was so inspiring and eloquent. It was as if Martin Luther King was standing over President Obama’s shoulders. Not one word of what the President said in the eulogy was disingenuous.

    It was beautiful.

  • Dominick Vila

    After 6.5 years of being called a disciple of the evil Rev. Wright, a Muslim, and just about everything short of being an extra terrestrial, President Obama abandoned all pretenses and expressed his emotions, values, and wishes in a way that only he can convey.
    It doesn’t matter if his decision to come clean is influenced by the conviction that he is by now a lame duck president, or because he had enough and is unwilling to take the abuse anymore, he articulated the wishes, fears, concerns that most Americans hold on issues that most politicians avoid like the plague, not because they don’t share his concerns, but because they are too cowardly to express them.

    • Joan

      I cried, I cheered and even though I am not a Christian, I too said “amen”( it is so). I voted for him twice and his speech reminded me again why I made that choice. I was proud of our President and though very flawed our country that day!

    • Louis Allen

      You said it. He “abandoned all pretenses”, ….after 6-1/2 years.

  • idamag

    Here is a man who will not be recognized as a Christian by those who are Christians in name only. His faith came through very apparent. God bless a real Christian.

    • Berdell Fleming

      ou can get an AMEN!!

  • greenlantern1

    There is a part of our history that is being overlooked.
    During the CIVIL WAR; the USS KEARSARGE sank the confederate raider, the ALABAMA,
    That battle was fought in the English Channel.
    Right near Cherbourg, France!
    Remember D-Day?

  • “…could not see the grace…” is a fitting and appropriate phrase for the killer, those who directly influenced him to do a most reprehensible thing in, of all places, the confines of a place of worship. The barbarity of that act equals that of Byron de la Beckwith in his cowardly gunning down of Medgar Evers in the back, the monstrous white supremacist who bombed a church in Birmingham in the 60’s killing 4 young girls in the process, the killing of a young boy, Emmet Till, by two monsters in Money, Miss., and the many lynchings carried out by similar filth.
    The fact that the GOP acts as a magnet attracting such creatures as supremacists is analogous to fecal matter attracting flies. When given a choice between sweets and fecal material, flies will invariably choose the latter as it serves as an indicator to let the flies know that their offspring would thrive better in such an environment.
    ISIS wreaks its havoc in the Muslim world and the version of ISIS in America wreaks havoc with equal virulence and cowardice. Both groups have ardent supporters.

    • idamag

      At last, someone who tells it like it is. We need more people like you.

  • I can’t even picture in my mind(except for a mere handful) of presidents having an iota of the ability to express such sentiments as Pres. Obama did.