Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Obama Presidency: Amazing Grace

It was one of those moments: spontaneous, dramatic and memorable--and a moment no President but President Barack Obama could create.

Just a year ago June, a young white supremacist shot and killed nine African Americans during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina. The murdered included the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney.

This was both another mass shooting and a specific hate crime against African Americans.  It was in this context that President Obama spoke Pinckney's eulogy.  He'd spoken many eulogies for gun violence victims.  And he was viscerally aware of gun violence as well as violent acts of hatred against black Americans.

His eulogy was eloquent, but what is remembered best is this moment.  From his heart emerged the tragic and defiant music of "Amazing Grace."

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