Ethiopian-born Meklit Hadaro (known as “Meklit”), a soulful singer and songwriter based in San Francisco, sings about what President Obama’s voice, heart, and spirit meant to a shocked nation when he sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney on June 17, 2015. Rev. Pinckney was murdered along with 9 people during a Wednesday night Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina by a young white supremacist man who wanted to start a race war.
6000 worshipers gathered in the church the day of the funeral and a worldwide audience watched live on television. An estimated 5000 people were turned away from the church for lack of seating space.
Here is the refrain from Meklit’s song:
We argued where to lay the blame
On one man’s hate or our nation’s shame
Some sickness of the mind or soul
And how those wounds might be made whole
But no words could say what must be said
For all the living and the dead
So on that day and in that place
The President sang Amazing Grace
My President sang Amazing Grace
You can watch and listen to her song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBQOQVsdzbE
Here is President Obama singing “Amazing Grace” on that sad day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN05jVNBs64
For the full story as told in 2015 in the NY Times, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/thousands-gather-for-funeral-of-clementa-pinckney-in-charleston.html
Gratitude to Thomas Friedman’s whose op-ed “When My President Sang ‘Amazing Grace’ – We’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a truth-teller and a healer in the White House” appeared in today’s NY Times, October 28, 2020.
Judith Kaplan said:
Thank you, John. So powerful and intense. I knew I would miss Barack, but now every time I see him tears fill my eyes. Oh, what we had. Love to you both and stay well. I pray we can survive this next week.
Sent from my iPhone
michael Kaplan said:
Dear John, I remember those days vividly. The respect and love you and Pastor Flowers had for each other emanated from your smiles and we as congregations were part of something very special. So sad that it was for such a short period ,never to be duplicated again. The Black and Jewish communities seem farther apart than ever and maybe never to experience this genuine openness and respect again. Hopefully, somewhere in this nation, it still flourishes.What a tragic world we find ourselves in with Ukraine, climate change, potential loss of democracy as we know it, etc. If only I possessed H. G. Wells time machine… Love to you and Barbara, Judi and Michael