‘Amazing Grace’: Obama Delivers Tribute to Slain Pastor

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — With a rousing eulogy and a chorus of “Amazing Grace,” President Barack Obama called on the country Friday to honor the nine victims of the South Carolina church massacre by working toward racial healing.

He said that includes removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, which he said would be not an act of political correctness but a “meaningful balm” for the unhealed wounds of slavery and the Jim Crow era.

“It’s true, the flag did not cause these murders,” Obama said, but “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.”

“By taking down that flag,” he said, “we express God’s grace.”

The remarks came in a eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and state senator who was among nine people gunned down at a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston last week.

Obama described the nine killed as “good people, decent people, God-fearing people. People so full of life and so full of kindness, people who ran the race, persevered. People of great faith.”

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

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