CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Invoking scripture and song, President Barack Obama stood Friday before those grieving the deaths of nine black people slain in church and called on Americans to confront the “uncomfortable truths” of the racial prejudices that still infect American society.

Eulogizing the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Obama said it would be a betrayal of everything the pastor stood for “if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on.”

He pleaded with Americans not “to go back to business as usual.”

Obama, in his 40-minute address, spoke movingly of all that Pinckney had done in his life, then confronted the hard questions raised by his death and the deaths of eight others slain by a white man.

He said it was time to remove the Confederate flag from American flagpoles, saying that action would “not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers” but an acknowledgement that “the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong,” as were the imposition of Jim Crow laws after the Civil War and further resistance to civil rights efforts.

Removing the flag, he said, “would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history, a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.”

Obama also urged Americans to acknowledge the more subtle ways that racism pervades society, expressing hope that the tragedy might prompt to people to think about “how racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it.”

“So that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs but we’re guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal,” he said.

The president called, too, for an American reckoning with the nation’s history of gun violence, saying “for too long we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflects upon this nation.”

Obama closed his rousing address by singing the words to the hymn “Amazing Grace,” and calling on Americans not to “lose our way again” by failing to reckon with the questions stirred in the past week.

The deaths of Pinckney and eight others sparked spirited debate in Southern states over the Confederate battle flag, which for years has flown at a monument on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse. But the slayings have also exposed the scant appetite in Washington for restarting discussions on gun control legislation, which have made no progress during Obama’s presidency.

The somber setting in Charleston was a marked contrast to the jubilant mood at the White House this week, where Obama and his advisers have relished back-to-back victories on trade and health care.

First lady Michelle Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, joined the president for the funeral at the College of Charleston. Among the members of Congress who accompanied Obama to Charleston was House Speaker John Boehner, making his first trip aboard Air Force One of the Obama presidency. Also in attendance was Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Following the service for Pinckney, the president was expected to meet privately with the families of other victims. The president got to know Pinckney during the 2008 presidential campaign, when he was an early supporter of Obama.

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(Photo: AP)

17 thoughts on “Obama Urges Reckoning with Racism’s ‘Uncomfortable Truths’

  1. MD Vet Mom on said:

    I was just reading in B more Sun about residents filming B more police…..so where is the film on who shot little McKenzie in the head, who ran over woman with dirt bike with a MILLION witnesses, who threw Phylicai Barnes raped and nude in a river???? I thought so…….glad I moved the h@ out of B more!

  2. Honestly on said:

    Don’t waste your time trying to reason with cave n!@@ers. They are rigid racist and liars. These neanderthal apes should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  3. White mass murders are labeled EXTREMISTS not TERRORIST. We dont have to fear ISIS when the police nationwide kill more people and get away with murder. Police who kill get paid vacations. As of today the police have kill 543 american just this year. Guardian.com.
    Free Speech: State Supreme Court Rules Profanity Towards Police is First Amendment Right
    By Mike Sawyer on June 27, 2015

    Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/free-speech-state-supreme-court-rules-profanity-police-amendment/#cgeuiwXwG9XTFjQo.99

  4. Mrknowitall on said:

    Lets admit affirmative action is institional racisum and it intentionally descriminates against some Americans based on skin color.

  5. Patsrule..u are very stupid… please get the fuck off of black sites.. lets talk about white cannibals.. school bombers.. James Byrd… eve the white on white crime for Matthew Sheppard.. whites killed him in a horrible way because he was gay..Lets talk about the lynching of black men.. and the igornant white crackers cutting on blacks ears and penis and putting them in there mouths! U WHITE crackers are the most racist morbid inhumane mfers alive U stupid B

  6. specialt757 on said:

    “a huge percentage of blacks would support him, or at the very least be making excuses for him.” White folks don’t even come close to calling this nut case the THUG he is, rather they make excuses that he has mental illness, yeah right. In addition, would white police officers take a black criminal who killed nine people to burger king because was hungry? Or would they beat the hell out of him or shackle his feet and not get him medical attention he required?

  7. specialt757 on said:

    Oh God another stupid troll. I guess that was a black man in a white body suit who shot and killed those 9 people in the church.

    • No, that was indeed a white racist who committed that awful crime. It was a horrible crime, no doubt. And thousands of white people are victimized by black criminals in this country every day.

      But there are two differences between what happened in SC and the thousands of black-on-white crimes that happen every day:

      1) The SC tragedy has been extensively covered in the media (and rightfully so), while equally heinous black-on-white crimes are ignored by the press (Google “Wichita Massacre”, or “Chanon Christian & Christopher Newsom murders” sometime.

      and

      2) White Americans have been universal in their condemnation of the animal who killed those poor souls in SC, whereas if a black man had murdered 9 inocent white churchgoers, a huge percentage of blacks would support him, or at the very least be making excuses for him.

      • specialt757 on said:

        @patsrule
        Your existence makes it pretty clear that the “Plan B” or morning after pill does not always work after one night stands. Go on back to hell where your daddy lives.

    • Typical juvenile response – resorting to name calling. If you want to talk about violence, go to the Justice Department’s website and look at the numbers for inter-racial crime.

      What you’ll find is that despite what you might infer from watching the nightly news, the vast majority of inter-racial crimes are black-on-white. That’s a FACT.

      • Patsrule- You deserve to called an A-hole and much worse coming on here with that BS. All down through history whites have been murdering, breaking treaties, stealing land, lying, deceiving, raping, ect committing unspeakable acts of violence in the name of white supremacy. FACTS!!!!

  8. Yes, there is still a lot of racism in this country. But if we’re going to be “reckoning with uncomfortable truths”, how about reckoning with the uncomfortable truth that the most racist people in America are blacks?

    Or is that TOO uncomfortable?

    • Wait, never mind. I forgot, you can no longer look that info up on the Justice Department website.

      Eric “I refuse to prosecute black-on-white hate crimes’ Holder had that info taken down while he was still AG.

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