During his eulogy for Reverend and Democratic state Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was shot down in an act of racial terrorism during an attack on a church in Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama burst into a spontaneous rendition of the poignant and appropriate song, “Amazing Grace”.
President Obama, transcript from the White House:
Reverend Pinckney once said, “Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history — we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.” (Applause.) What is true in the South is true for America. Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other. That my liberty depends on you being free, too. (Applause.) That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past — how to break the cycle. A roadway toward a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind — but, more importantly, an open heart.
That’s what I’ve felt this week — an open heart. That, more than any particular policy or analysis, is what’s called upon right now, I think — what a friend of mine, the writer Marilyn Robinson, calls “that reservoir of goodness, beyond, and of another kind, that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things.”
That reservoir of goodness. If we can find that grace, anything is possible. (Applause.) If we can tap that grace, everything can change. (Applause.)
Amazing grace. Amazing grace.
(Begins to sing) — Amazing grace — (applause) — how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see. (Applause.)
Clementa Pinckney found that grace.
Cynthia Hurd found that grace.
Susie Jackson found that grace.
Ethel Lance found that grace.
DePayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace.
Tywanza Sanders found that grace.
Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. found that grace.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace.
Myra Thompson found that grace.
This was an incredible moment as so many Americans joined, in spirit as they watched, the first half-black president singing Amazing Grace, especially this week as Confederate flags came down from government buildings and large retailers’ shelves. If only it hadn’t cost too much.
Even the press that has been so befuddled by President Obama have praised this speech as the speech of his presidency, and it was. For anyone who didn’t know who the President was yet, this speech was revelatory. But for those who have been paying attention, it was exactly what we expected.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with each family separately at the conclusion of today’s service.
Today President Obama put his heart out there for all to see as he honored a great man who was taken too soon in an act of terrorism and hate. His eulogy was full of uplifting moments of stunning grace. It is not to be missed.
For more on President Obama’s speech and full video, click here.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.