CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – President Barack Obama says the pain over the killings of a church pastor and his eight black parishioners cuts much deeper because they were slain at a church.
Obama says church is at the center of African American life. He says it’s a “place to call our own in an often hostile world.”
Obama made the remarks during a eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine African-Americans shot and killed during a Bible study at a church in Charleson, South Carolina, last week. The suspect charged in the killings, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, is white.
Obama also addressed the symbol of the Confederate flag and said for many it was a reminder of “systemic oppression and racial subjugation.” Roof had been photographed with the flag before the shootings.
Obama broke into song toward the end of his 30-plus minute eulogy, delivering a rendition of “Amazing Grace” to the crowd of 5,000 mourners.