Obama’s Eulogy, Which Found Its Place in History - The New York Times
by Michiko Kakutani
Barack Obama’s eulogy for the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., was remarkable not only because the president sang the opening refrain of “Amazing Grace” on live television, and not only because of his eloquence in memorializing the pastor and eight other parishioners killed by a white gunman. It was also remarkable because the eulogy drew on all of Mr. Obama’s gifts of language and empathy and searching intellect — first glimpsed in “Dreams From My Father,” his deeply felt 1995 memoir about identity and family. And because it used those gifts to talk about the complexities of race and justice, situating them within an echoing continuum in time that reflected both Mr. Obama’s own long view of history, and the panoramic vision of America, shared by Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a country in the process of perfecting itself.
Mr. Obama’s view of the nation’s history as a more than two-century journey to make the promises of the Declaration of Independence (“that all men are created equal”) real for everyone, his former chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, suggested in an email, is “both an American and a religious sentiment” — predicated upon the belief that individual sinners and a country scarred by the original sin of slavery can overcome the past through “persistent, courageous, sometimes frustrating efforts.”