Watch President Obama Sing “Amazing Grace” at the Funeral of Clementa Pinckney

It was quite a week for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. On Mon­day, we all got to hear the reveal­ing inter­view Oba­ma record­ed in the Los Ange­les garage of come­di­an Marc Maron. Mid­week, the Supreme Court reject­ed the lat­est legal chal­lenge to the Afford­able Health­care Act, his sig­na­ture piece of leg­is­la­tion. Now on Fri­day — the same day that Oba­ma wel­comed the court’s land­mark deci­sion on gay mar­riage — the Pres­i­dent solemn­ly presided over the funer­al of Clemen­ta Pinck­ney, one of the nine African-Amer­i­cans mur­dered in a Charleston church last week.

You can watch his eulo­gy above in its entire­ty, but we’re fast for­ward­ing to the end, when, rather unex­pect­ed­ly, the pres­i­dent led the con­gre­ga­tion in singing Amaz­ing Grace, a Chris­t­ian hymn writ­ten in 1779 by John New­ton. In an iron­ic his­toric foot­note, New­ton was the cap­tain of Eng­lish slave ships and wrote the spir­i­tu­al song when his ship, buf­fet­ed by a storm, near­ly met its demise. This marked the begin­ning of a spir­i­tu­al con­ver­sion for New­ton, dur­ing which he remained active in the slave trade. Only years lat­er did he repent and focus his ener­gy on abol­ish­ing slav­ery. He would write ‘Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade,’ an influ­en­tial tract that “described the hor­rors of the Slave Trade and his role in it.”

Like many things, the descen­dants of slaves took the good from “Amaz­ing Grace” and made it their own.

Note: the singing starts at the 35:20 mark if you real­ly need to move things along.

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via Moth­er Jones

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1.5 Mil­lion Slav­ery Era Doc­u­ments Will Be Dig­i­tized, Help­ing African Amer­i­cans to Learn About Their Lost Ances­tors

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma Chats with David Simon About Drugs, The Wire & Omar

Visu­al­iz­ing Slav­ery: The Map Abra­ham Lin­coln Spent Hours Study­ing Dur­ing the Civ­il War

Free Online His­to­ry Cours­es

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