Video | President Obama Delivers the Eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Full video of President Obama’s moving tribute to Reverend Pinckney.


I will replace the video with a high quality one when available.

Transcript: President Obama delivers eulogy for Charleston pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney

President Obama delivered the following eulogy at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston’s campus.

OBAMA: Giving all praise and honor to God.

(APPLAUSE) The Bible calls us to hope, to persevere and have faith in things not seen. They were still living by faith when they died, the scripture tells us.


They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith, a man who believed in things not seen, a man who believed there were better days ahead off in the distance, 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 deliver a better life for those who followed, to Jennifer, his beloved wife, Eliana and Malana, his beautiful, wonderful daughters, to the Mother Emanuel family and the people of Charleston, the people of South Carolina.

I cannot claim to have had the good fortune to know Reverend Pinckney well, but I did have the pleasure of knowing him and meeting him here in South Carolina back when we were both a little bit younger…


… back when I didn’t have visible gray hair.


The first thing I noticed was his graciousness, his smile, his reassuring baritone, his deceptive sense of humor, all qualities that helped him wear so effortlessly a heavy burden of expectation.

Friends of his remarked this week that when Clementa Pinckney entered a room, it was like the future arrived, that even from a young age, folks knew he was special, anointed. He was the progeny of a long line of the faithful, a family of preachers who spread God’s words, a family of protesters who so changed to expand voting rights and desegregate the South.

Clem heard their instruction, and he did not forsake their teaching. He was in the pulpit by 13, pastor by 18, public servant by 23. He did not exhibit any of the cockiness of youth nor youth’s insecurities. Instead, he set an example worthy of his position, wise beyond his years in his speech, in his conduct, in his love, faith and purity.

As a senator, he represented a sprawling swathe of low country, a place that has long been one of the most neglected in America, a place still racked by poverty and inadequate schools, a place where children can still go hungry and the sick can go without treatment — a place that needed somebody like Clem.

(APPLAUSE) His position in the minority party meant the odds of winning more resources for his constituents were often long. His calls for greater equity were too-often unheeded. The votes he cast were sometimes lonely.

But he never gave up. He stayed true to his convictions. He would not grow discouraged. After a full day at the Capitol, he’d climb into his car and head to the church to draw sustenance from his family, from his ministry, from the community that loved and needed him. There, he would fortify his faith and imagine what might be.

Reverend Pinckney embodied a politics that was neither mean nor small. He conducted himself quietly and kindly and diligently. He encouraged progress not by pushing his ideas alone but by seeking out your ideas, partnering with you to make things happen. He was full of empathy and fellow feeling, able to walk in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.

No wonder one of his Senate colleagues remembered Senator Pinckney as “the most gentle of the 46 of us, the best of the 46 of us.”

Clem was often asked why he chose to be a pastor and a public servant. But the person who asked probably didn’t know the history of AME Church.


As our brothers and sisters in the AME Church, we don’t make those distinctions. “Our calling,” Clem once said, “is not just within the walls of the congregation but the life and community in which our congregation resides.”


He embodied the idea that our Christian faith demands deeds and not just words, that the sweet hour of prayer actually lasts the whole week long, that to put our faith in action is more than just individual salvation, it’s about our collective salvation, that to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and house the homeless is not just a call for isolated charity but the imperative of a just society.

What a good man. Sometimes I think that’s the best thing to hope for when you’re eulogized, after all the words and recitations and resumes are read, to just say somebody was a good man.


You don’t have to be of high distinction to be a good man.

Preacher by 13, pastor by 18, public servant by 23. What a life Clementa Pinckney lived. What an example he set. What a model for his faith.

And then to lose him at 41, slain in his sanctuary with eight wonderful members of his flock, each at different stages in life but bound together by a common commitment to God — Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson.

Good people. Decent people. God-fearing people.


People so full of life and so full of kindness, people who ran the race, who persevered, people of great faith.

To the families of the fallen, the nation shares in your grief. Our pain cuts that much deeper because it happened in a church.

The church is and always has been the center of African American life…


… a place to call our own in a too-often hostile world, a sanctuary from so many hardships.

Over the course of centuries, black churches served as hush harbors, where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses, where their free descendants could gather and shout “Hallelujah…”


… rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the civil-rights movement.

They have been and continue to community centers, where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harms way and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter.


That’s what happens in church. That’s what the black church means — our beating heart, the place where our dignity as a people in inviolate.

There’s no better example of this tradition than Mother Emanuel, a church…


… a church built by blacks seeking liberty, burned to the ground because its founders sought to end slavery only to rise up again, a phoenix from these ashes. (APPLAUSE)

When there were laws banning all-black church gatherers, services happened here anyway in defiance of unjust laws. When there was a righteous movement to dismantle Jim Crow, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached from its pulpit, and marches began from its steps.

A sacred place, this church, not just for blacks, not just for Christians but for every American who cares about the steady expansion…


… of human rights and human dignity in this country, a foundation stone for liberty and justice for all.

That’s what the church meant.


We do not know whether the killer of Reverend Pinckney and eight others knew all of this history, but he surely sensed the meaning of his violent act. It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…


… an act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion, an act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin.

Oh, but God works in mysterious ways.


God has different ideas.


He didn’t know he was being used by God.


Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer would not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group, the light of love that shown 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.


The alleged killer could not imagine how the city of Charleston under the good and wise leadership of Mayor Riley, how the state of South Carolina, how the United States of America would respond not merely with revulsion at his evil acts, but with (inaudible) generosity. And more importantly, with a thoughtful introspection and self-examination that we so rarely see in public life. Blinded by hatred, he failed to comprehend what Reverend Pinckney so well understood — the power of God’s grace.


This whole week, I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace.


The grace of the families who lost loved ones; the grace that Reverend Pinckney would preach about in his sermons; the grace described in one of my favorite hymnals, the one we all know — Amazing Grace.


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.


According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not merited. It’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God.


As manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Grace — as a nation out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.


He’s given us the chance where we’ve been lost to find out best selves. We may not have earned this grace with our rancor and complacency and short-sightedness and fear of each other, but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway. He’s once more given us grace.

But it is up to us now to make the most of it, to receive it with gratitude and to prove ourselves worthy of this gift.

For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate Flag stirred into many of our citizens.


It’s true a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge, including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise…


… as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride.


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 capital would not be an act of political correctness. It would not an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.


The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong.


It would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history, a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.

It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races, striving to form a more perfect union.

By taking down that flag, we express adds grace God’s grace.


But I don’t think God wants us to stop there.


For too long, we’ve been blind to be way past injustices continue 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.


Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal-justice system and lead us to make sure that that system’s not infected with bias.

that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement…


… and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure.


Maybe we now realize the way a racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it so that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs but we’re also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal…


… so that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote…


… by recognizing our common humanity, by treating every child as important, regardless of the color of their skin…


… or the station into which they were born and to do what’s necessary to make opportunity real for every American. By doing that, we express God’s grace.


For too long…


For too long, we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation.


Sporadically, our eyes are open when eight of our brothers and sisters are cut down in a church basement, 12 in a movie theater, 26 in an elementary school. But I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day…


… the countless more whose lives are forever changed, the survivors crippled, the children traumatized and fearful every day as they walk to school, the husband who will never feel his wife’s warm touch, the entire communities whose grief overflows every time they have to watch what happened to them happening to some other place.

The vast majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners want to do something about this. We see that now.


And I’m convinced that by acknowledging the pain and loss of others, even as we respect the traditions, ways of life that make up this beloved country, by making the moral choice to change, we express God’s grace.


We don’t earn grace. We’re all sinners. We don’t deserve it.


But God gives it to us anyway.


And we choose how to receive it. It’s our decision how to honor it.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says, “We have to have a conversation about race.” We talk a lot about race.


There’s no shortcut. We don’t need more talk.


None of us should believe that a handful of gun safety measures will prevent every tragedy.

It will not. People of good will will continue to debate the merits of various policies as our democracy requires — the big, raucous place, America is. And there are good people on both sides of these debates.

Whatever solutions we find will necessarily be incomplete. But it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allow ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.


Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society.


To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change, that’s how we lose our way again. It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong, but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism.

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.”


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.


That — that history can’t be a sword to justify injustice or a shield against progress. It 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 felt this week — an open heart. That more than any particular policy or analysis is what’s called upon right now, I think. It’s 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.


If we can tap that grace, everything can change. Amazing grace, amazing grace.

Amazing grace…


… 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.


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…

(APPLAUSE) … Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace…


… Myra Thompson found that grace…


… through the example of their lives. They’ve now passed it onto us. May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift as long as our lives endure.

May grace now lead them home. May God continue to shed His Grace on the United States of America.

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52 Responses to Video | President Obama Delivers the Eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney

  1. Ametia says:

    And the critiques/comments from Dsyon, Smiley, West, Coates?


    • Ametia says:

      *TEARS* The photo of Eliana reaching out for an embarce from PBO….

    • Liza says:

      I keep thinking about Eliana. I was ten years old when my father died. More than 50 years later the details of those days, the day he died, the funeral, the burial, are still very sharp in my memory. My father died from natural causes, but it was very sudden. With these young girls, their father was stolen from them. And that memory will be very hard to bear for a very long time.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Joy Reid ✔ @JoyAnnReid
    There was always going to be something fundamentally different, in both wonderful and painful ways, about having a black president.

  3. rikyrah says:

    They are showing

    The Gospel Tradition: In Performance at the White House on TV One. It will be repeated at 10:30 pm EST.

  4. rikyrah says:

    comment found at POU:


    Even above and beyond his leadership on the topic of race, what the PBO did today for the two now-fatherless children of a distinguished man…I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the President and First Lady. What has been taken from those girls can and will never be replaced. They’ve been thrown into a miserable miserable situation, there is no avoiding that. But having a father so honored and elevated by the President and First Lady of the United States will mean something. I think it will mean a great deal to those kids. They now have to make do with their father’s memory and not the man, but that memory has been enhanced exponentially. Praying for them and their mom.

  5. rikyrah says:

    I don’t even know what

    “gravitational time dilation Blackness.”

    means…but, I’m gonna steal it..LOL

  6. rikyrah says:



    Hola Peeps! Today I sat down & wrote a letter on real paper, with ink in my best penmanship I learned in second grade & mailed it with a stamp. Here’s what I said:

    Dear President Obama:

    Sir, you are a Child of Light who lends all of us grace in everything you say and do. Today you preached grace to a nation that needs this quality so very much. Grace is a gift and a blessing from Dios but you are inspired to share yours with all of us. Gracias! I will work hard to be worthy of the faith & hope you have in all the people of this country. Be blessed and continue in grace and light.

    Sincerely, with love from my heart to your heart:

    Signed, my name etc.

    (I had to do this letter. It was important to me.)

  7. rikyrah says:

    the entire thread was hilarious for these tweets

  8. rikyrah says:

    When POTUS says we don’t need to talk about race. That we’ve had a lot of talks about race, that was shade towards the Blackademics and their hustle. Cause, they’re all about the talk.

  9. rikyrah says:

    this is from sag over at POU:


    I was thinking about this on the way home, Fam. I’d like to share it with you.

    To me, POTUS (and FLOTUS) is like that brother/uncle/cousin/friend that does really well in school and builds an amazing career. A career that no one, including POTUS, could have ever predicted or dreamed.

    A career that has taken him on incredible journeys to experience once-in-a-lifetime moments. Despite all of the wonders of his journey and how far it takes him from home, he doesn’t ever forget home and tries to go home as often as possible.

    That’s what struck me when POTUS and FLOTUS walked into the homegoing this afternoon. They were home. Although the occasion was not what they would have wished, they were home. They could participate in the rituals and reveal/relax themselves because they didn’t have to worry about being misundersood. They didn’t have to explain. They didn’t have to apologize. They could just be, because people were glad to have them home and they were glad to be there. For a respite. For a chance to reconnect with the touchstones that are the foundations of their lives. For a chance to revel in a place where it is OK just to be.

    That’s why, when I see some pissant like Deray, or Cornell, or Travis try and weigh POTUS’ blackness, it makes me want to mow them down like 3 inch tall grass. Barack Hussein Obama II IS black consciousness – black consciousness that is transparent, productive and transformational.

  10. Ametia says:

    Even the song Amazing Grace & the writer of the song carried withit the message, the consciousness that President Obama transmitted in his eulogy today.

    Amazing Grace:
    The Story of John Newton
    by Al Rogers

    (This article is reprinted from the July-August 1996 issue of ‘Away Here in Texas’.)

    “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, a staple in the hymnals of many denominations, New Britain or ’45 on the top’ in Sacred Harp. The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.

    Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean. When John was eleven, he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich. Finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman.

    Finally at his own request he was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He then became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John’s father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade.

    Read on:

  11. rikyrah says:

    If you want to record it, Maddow is going to show it on her show tonight.

  12. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “It would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again — once the eulogies have been delivered and the TV cameras have moved on.”

  13. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.”

    President Obama emphasized that even in the midst of our sadness, this tragedy has “allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.” It made clear how the Confederate flag has been a “reminder of systematic oppression and racial subjugation.” It reminded us how gun violence inflicts a “unique mayhem” on our nation. It spotlighted how past injustices continue to shape our present actions. (White House page)

  14. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Stephen Crowley ‏@Stcrow (NYT photographer)
    “President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” during service for Rev. Pinckney.”

  15. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Oh my, and that gospel singing!

    I especially liked Walking Up the King’s Highway” and “He’s Done So Much For Me”

  16. roderick2012 says:

    I watched that at work–only three others in the office.

    That Negro……….. PREACHED!!!

    And had the nerve to lean down and sideways into the microphone when he started singing ‘Amazing Grace’.

    I had to chuckle.

    If there was any doubt that Obama doesn’t have half a fugg to give during his last 18 months in office he confirmed it today.

  17. yahtzeebutterfly says:


    “If we can tap that Grace everything can change!”

  18. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Our President really communicated profound truths today. He pointed out to us where the path to the sunrise is that can take us out of the dark night.

    My heart is filled with joyous tears, reflective tears, and hopeful tears.

  19. Ametia says:

    Well folks, BLACK, WHITE, LATINO, ASIAN, NATIVE AMERICAN, you wanted your conversation on race , like you didn’t get it in March of 2008 in Philly.


    • yahtzeebutterfly says:
      • Ametia says:

        I feel the Holy Spirit, even when I read the transcript of the eulogy.

        Reverend Pinckney’s spirit lives on, there’s no doubt about it, for me.

      • yahtzeebutterfly says:

        Oh YES!

        You have articulated what I have been feeling, Ametia.

      • Liza says:

        When I read the transcript, I realized how beautifully written and powerful this eulogy really is. There is absolutely no waste or excess here, every sentence is crucial to the message. But what is so absolutely amazing is that these hard truths were written and delivered by a sitting American president, definitely not one seeking re-election, but by the first African American president who wanted it on the record that he spoke these truths.

        President Obama was not speaking truth to power, he is not advocating here, he is the most powerful person in the world. What we heard today was just simply power speaking truth. And how often does that happen?

        A brilliant speech, to be sure.

  20. Ametia says:

    President Obama delivery of this eulogy for Reverend Pinckney spoke to the very HEART & SOUL of what it means to live as a Black person who carries the love and grace of God’s Mercy.

    He spoke to the HEART & SOUL of BLACK PEOPLE.

    A very Christian way of being isn’t it, folks?

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