On 26 June 2015, a 21 year-old white supremacist entered Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, joined a prayer meeting and then murdered 9 of the members present, including the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Obama's moving tribute reflected his own deep Christian faith, and described the power of God's redemptive grace, even in the worst of situations (at one point he led the congregation in a verse of 'Amazing Grace'). He also referred to the legacy of slavery as a root of the hatred behind the tragedy. "For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present."
"Maybe we now realise the way racial bias can infect us even when we don't realise it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal. So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote. By recognising our common humanity by treating every child as important, regardless of the colour of their skin or the station into which they were born, and to do what’s necessary to make opportunity real for every American – by doing that, we express God’s grace."
Read the full text of Obama's speech.