President Obama Delivers Eulogy At Funeral For Rev. Clementa Pinckney

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President Obama delivered the eulogy Friday at the funeral of Rev. Pinckney in Charleston, S.C., Friday. The state senator was killed last Wednesday in the shooting at a historic black church.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The funeral for South Carolina state senator Clemente Pinckney was held this afternoon. The pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was murdered during bible study along with eight other black parishioners. President Obama, the first lady, Vice President Biden and his wife attended the ceremony. It was held at TD Arena on the College of Charleston campus. NPR's Wade Goodwyn was there and has this report.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: The line to get into TD Arena began to form before the memorial for Rev. Pinckney began. The arena is a block from Emanuel AME which itself sits across from Marion Square, a public park. There, a celebration of the lives of the murdered began in the early hours with music and dancing in the morning heat. Inside the 5,000-seat basketball arena, it was standing-room only, and the Emanuel choir was in full voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) I'm going over yonder.

GOODWYN: Bishop John Richard Bryant called the gathering.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN RICHARD BRYANT: In case there is any confusion in the room, in case you've been confused by the long line or by the television cameras, please know that what we enter into now is worship.

GOODWYN: Pinckney was a political prodigy and natural orator. Called by God to preach at the age of 13, he was ordained at 18 and almost immediately assigned to pastor a small church. Politics and preaching were the two poles of Pinckney's life. Elected to the South Carolina House at the age of 23, the Senate at 27, he was appointed to the state's most prestigious AME pulpit in downtown Charleston at the age of 36. Clemente Pinckney's remarkable potential came to a violent end just shy of his 42nd birthday. Rev. Bryant preached that the alleged murderer, Dylann Roof, misjudged his targets.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRYANT: Someone should've told the young man. He wanted to start a race war, but he came to the wrong place.

GOODWYN: President Obama took the podium to praise his political colleague, but he began with the other side of the man.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: What a good man. Sometimes, I think that's the best thing to hope for when you're eulogized, after all the words and recitations and resumes are read, to just say somebody was a good man.

GOODWYN: President Obama also spoke about the alleged murderer, Dylann Roof.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: An act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation's original sin. Oh, but God works in mysterious ways.

>>OBAMA God has different ideas.

(APPLAUSE)

(APPLAUSE)

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: He didn't know he was being used by God. Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Rev. Pinkney and that bible study group.

GOODWYN: The president told the gathering that the subject of grace had been on his mind since the shooting, that he'd been inspired by the grace of Pinckney and the ability of the family members of those who died to forgive the killer. And then Obama did something remarkable for a president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: (Singing) Amazing grace...

(APPLAUSE)

GOODWYN: Rev. Clemente Pinckney leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Charleston.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: (Singing) ...A wretch like me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.