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Obama opens up about singing ‘Amazing Grace’ after Charleston shooting: ‘I’ve used up all my words’

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Former President Obama, in his new podcast with Bruce Springsteen, discusses singing “Amazing Grace” during the 2015 funeral service for one of the victims of the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.

In an episode of Spotify’s “Renegades: Born in the USA” set to drop on Monday, Obama says the closest he “ever came to just losing hope about this country” was after Congress failed to pass meaningful gun reform in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

“So it happens again,” he tells Springsteen, referring to Charleston, where a white gunman murdered nine Black members of a Bible study group. “And I say as soon as it happens — in addition to making a statement from the White House — I say, ‘You know, I’ll want to go to the funeral, but I don’t want to speak. I don’t have anything left to say. I feel like I’ve used up all my words.’ ”

“Nothing I’ve been able to say” on the issue of gun violence could bring about real change, Obama says in an advance clip of “Renegades” provided exclusively to The Hill.

“Whether making practical, rational arguments, emotional arguments — I’ve shown anger in speaking about this. I’ve shown sorrow, and nothing seems to have any impact. I’m out of words,” he says.

However, asked to speak at the funeral for the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator and personal friend, Obama says he “concluded alright, it was part of the job.” 

“I don’t have the luxury, but I was stuck. I had nothing to say. It just so happened at the time I was corresponding with a friend, Marilynne Robinson, who’s a wonderful author, wrote ‘Gilead’ and … one theme that she writes about is grace. And we have been writing about grace and just talking about the notion of — the notion of grace as a recognition that we are fundamentally flawed and weak and confused,” the former president says.

“So, we don’t deserve grace, but we get it sometimes.”

The then-president made headlines and went viral when he burst into song at Pinckney’s funeral, with clergy at the service later referring to him as “Reverend Obama.” 

He used his eulogy to call again for the nation to tackle gun reform, saying “It would be a betrayal to everything Rev. Pinckney stood for if we allow ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.”

“Sporadically, our eyes are open” after mass killings, Obama said. “But I hope we also see that 30 precious lives are cut short by gun violence every single day.” 

Tags amazing grace Barack Obama Born in the U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen Charleston Charleston church shooting Charleston shooting Clementa Pinckney Gun reform gun violence renegades South Carolina Spotify

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