President Obama gave a stirring eulogy at the funeral for the Rev. Clamenta Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston who was one of the nine people killed by a racist shooter last week at one of the church’s prayer meetings. “We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith,” Obama said. “A man of service who persevered knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would provide a better life for those who followed.”
Along with honoring the victims of the shooting, Obama addressed the current racial climate in America, saying, “It would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.”
He also addressed the recent controversy over the Confederate flag. Since the shooting, there have been calls to remove the flag from state capitol buildings in the South. The governor of Alabama ordered the flag removed from the capitol, and major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears and eBay have pulled items that feature Confederate flags. Obama argued that the flag is more than just an expression of Southern heritage:
For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now. Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought—the cause of slavery—was wrong.
“By taking down that flag, we express God’s grace,” he said. “But I don’t think God wants us to stop there.”
Obama ended the eulogy by singing “Amazing Grace,” and the whole audience soon joined in. You can watch the entire service on C-SPAN.