President Obama referenced the Martin Luther King Jr. eulogy in Birmingham when offering words of comfort following the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. We are all shocked by the level of hate that visited a religious institution and killed 9 amazing people while practicing their religion just because of the color of their skin. It was amazing to hear the families forgive the alleged shooter. This massacre has shocked the consciousness of our society and we hope will lead to some positive changes. I went back to the full eulogy and found comfort in King's words.
And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour (Yeah Well), we must not despair. (Yeah, Well) We must not become bitter (Yeah, That's right), nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. (Yeah, Yes) Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality.
May I now say a word to you, the members of the bereaved families? It is almost impossible to say anything that can console you at this difficult hour and remove the deep clouds of disappointment which are floating in your mental skies. But I hope you can find a little consolation from the universality of this experience. Death comes to every individual. There is an amazing democracy about death. It is not aristocracy for some of the people, but a democracy for all of the people. Kings die and beggars die; rich men and poor men die; old people die and young people die. Death comes to the innocent and it comes to the guilty. Death is the irreducible common denominator of all men.
We know that we have made huge advancements since King was leading the civil rights movement, but we still have a long way to go. There is still racism; there is still the need for fair housing protections and civil rights protections for minority populations. There is still a resentment of minority populations and fear of those who are different. Poverty and homelessness are disproportionately impacting minority populations. We cannot being to solve these issues until we have a truth and reconciliation for the crimes and injustice of nearly 200 years of racism that is the foundation of the United States.
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