President Barack Obama continues to lead this country with class and heart, delivering a touching and emotional eulogy for state Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney, an unfortunate victim in the tragic shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week. Obama spoke eloquently of the good works and commitment to community Pinckney had, and solemnly acknowledged by name each of the church members who lost their lives with Pinckney. He then proceeded to talk about the history of the black church and the power of grace.
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… 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.
Obama goes on to address the Confederate flag as a symbol of systemic oppression and racial subjugation, and calls getting rid of it as “one step in an honest accounting of America’s history. A modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.” To read a transcript of his incredible eulogy, which also forcefully addresses mass incarceration, police brutality, voting rights, gun violence and systemic racial bias, click here. To see it in full, watch below:
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)