GLENWOOD, Iowa, U.S.A. – President Barack Obama delivered an inspiring eulogy at the funeral for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney last week that may resonate for years to come.
Pinckney, the pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, was leading the Bible study group June 17 when a man who was welcomed as a visitor shot and killed him and eight people in his congregation.
Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, is charged with killing nine American citizens.
Besides Pinckney, victims were the Rev. Shronda Coleman-Singleton, the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor and the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders and Myra Thompson.
The murders are being investigated as a racially-motivated hate crime.
Obama, who knew some members of the church, including its pastor, gave Pinckney’s eulogy.
The crowd applauded and frequently offered harmonized yells of acceptance during the president’s moving speech.
He spoke of peace and harmony, the symbolic history of the Emanuel AME Church, and the solutions Pinckney wanted to see to bridge America’s racial divide.
“It would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allow ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again,” said Obama.
Our nation’s history should show the change that has gotten us to where we are today. However, it seems that for every two steps we take forward toward making history, we take one step back.
Another racial issue is addressed in our community and one or more residents have to pay the price.
The president’s speech inspired me and my family to act on the changes that society often discourages.
Nearly every day, it is not difficult to hear, yet again, the shootings of unarmed black citizens and the lack of justice that follows, but that hasn’t stopped many Americans from being willfully ignorant about race.
At the closing of his eulogy, Obama’s words lifted the crowd inside the church – and the many of us watching the recorded video.
Impressively, the president included the name of every individual murdered and concluded that they each found 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.”
This is the perspective the U.S. and its citizens must take if we want the change to make a difference.
Garret Reich is a Junior Reporter from Iowa for Youth Journalism International.