Obama's Amazing Grace

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Obama’s Amazing Grace on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

President Barack Obama’s eulogy for the victims of the shootings in Charleston, S.C. earned much well-deserved attention and praise not just for his surprising rendition of “Amazing Grace” which drew nearly two million hits on YouTube, but for the speech itself. Michiko Kakutani, the distinguished Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic for The New York Times, gave it a “place in history” alongside Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his Second Inaugural Address, and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech—impressive company.

I highly recommend Ms. Kakutani’s analysis of the speech to the readers of this blog, particularly on how she focused on “Obama’s own long view of history, and the panoramic vision of America.”

In the president’s own words:

For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now.  Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career. 

The lesson here—for any speech or presentation—is to create a bigger story, to add dimension to basic ideas, to set them in a broader, fuller context.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Obama’s Amazing Grace on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

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