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Barack Obama on why he sang Amazing Grace after Charleston church mass shooting: ‘Will words be enough?’

The Independent logo The Independent 02/03/2021 Rachel Brodsky
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On episode three of his Renegades podcast with Bruce Springsteen, former President Barack Obama opened up about singing “Amazing Grace” at the 2015 funeral for victims of the Charleston church mass shooting.

“What I really want to ask you about, of course, is 'Amazing Grace', because that really that shook the whole country. How on that day, did you come to decide to sing that song?,” asked Springsteen, recalling how the former POTUS sang the hymn during the eulogy for Rev Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the Charleston church shooting.

“First of all, that day was a magical day that began in grief,” Obama replied. “We had anticipated would begin in in grief, but it turns out that’s also the day in which the Supreme Court hands down the ruling saying that it is unconstitutional to not let lesbians and gays and LGBTQ partners get married, so that’s a joyful moment.

“But we are traveling down to Charleston after this this young white man who’s been filled with hatred – and I would go after each of these mass shootings – and sometimes Michelle [Obama] would go with me – although it was at a certain point became difficult for Michelle to just do this. And I would spend a couple hours with a family who just had their child or their father or their brother, or their son gunned down senselessly for no reason,” he continued, going on to reference the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.


"And I had thought that after Newtown when 20 six-year-olds had been gunned down in this fashion by a deranged young man – who had basically an arsenal in his house...

READ MORE: Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama discuss race in America on Renegades podcast

“I thought all right, well, Congress is gonna do something about this. And the most angry I think and disappointed … the closest I ever came to just losing hope about this country was probably after efforts for modest gun safety laws were defeated – weren’t even really, never even really got called up in the Senate. After 20 children had been slaughtered like that. The only time I saw a Secret Service person cry while I was speaking – was at Newtown,” Obama said.

“So it happens again, and I say as soon as it happens – in addition to making a statement from the White House – I say, ‘You know, I’ll want to go to the funeral, but I don’t want to speak. I don’t have anything left to say. I feel like I’ve used up all my words.’”


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