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Obama: Out of tragic killing of Rev. Pinckney, we find grace

Clementa Pinckney, a minister and South Carolina state senator who was gunned down in his church, was laid to rest today, with President Barack Obama delivering the eulogy at his funeral. Hari Sreenivasan looks at how Rev. Pinckney was remembered.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Now to Charleston, South Carolina, and the funeral today of Clementa Pinckney, the preacher politician killed in last week’s mass shooting. People came from far and wide and the service — for the service — and the president delivered an impassioned eulogy.

    Songs filled the air, as some 6,000 people filled T.D. Arena at the College of Charleston.

  • REV. NORVEL GOFF, AME Church:

    We come at this hour for the home-going celebration of our departed and beloved brother, the Reverend Senator Clementa Pinckney.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Pinckney was both a minister and state senator. And he was one of nine people killed by a white gunman last week at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal.

    State Senator Gerald Malloy served with Pinckney and as his personal lawyer.

  • GERALD MALLOY (D), South Carolina State Senator:

    Senator Pinckney’s last act as a Christian and as a senator was to open his doors to someone who he didn’t know, who he didn’t understand, and who didn’t look like him. So, in the days or weeks ahead, let us not close the doors that Senator Pinckney gave his life for us to open.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The funeral also brought a delegation of U.S. congressman to Charleston, along with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Reverends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and President and Mrs. Obama, plus Vice President Biden.

    The president delivered the main eulogy, praising Pinckney’s life, while decrying racism and gun violence.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    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, 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.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    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, 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.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    God has different ideas.

    Out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we have been blind.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

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

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • BARACK OBAMA:

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

    (APPLAUSE)

    (PRESIDENT OBAMA AND AUDIENCE SING “AMAZING GRACE”)

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Reverend Pinckney will be laid to rest in Marion, South Carolina. He was 41 years old.

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