Obama Honours Charleston Shooting Victims At Funeral

Obama speaking at the funeral

Obama speaking at the funeral

US President Barack Obama is to deliver a eulogy in Charleston for his friend, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was shot dead with eight others last week.

The attack on a Bible study group at a historic African-American church is thought to be racially motivated.
Thousands are expected to attend the South Carolina funeral to hear the president’s tributes to the victims.

BBC reported that the tragedy has reignited debate about race relations and sparked a backlash against the Confederate flag.

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old suspected gunman in custody, has been photographed holding the flag.
The president will be accompanied in Charleston by first lady Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill.

On the eve of the funeral, there were gospel songs on the streets outside Emanuel AME – music that once relieved the cruelty of segregation used now to soothe the hearts of this mourning community.

Parishioners queued for hours, in sweltering heat and Sunday best, to view the body of their dead pastor – the length of the line a measure of their respect.

Most are clinging to an article of their faith – that love can conquer hate.

Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a politician as well as a preacher, will be eulogised by President Obama – a speech where he’ll express the sympathies of an unusually united nation.

And what we’ve witnessed in the American south since the shootings has been dramatic – a re-evaluation of how the region commemorates its past and a heightened level of respect for the sensitivities of its black population.

The first two funerals, for Ethel Lance and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, were held on Thursday.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton were in attendance.

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