What Was President Obama's All-Time Best Ever Speech? Here's One Strong Contender


There are now less than thirty days remaining of the Obama administration, with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump approaching fast on the horizon. As such, plenty of the current president's supporters are trying to savor the last few weeks he has in the Oval Office, looking back at some of the highlights of his tenure, as well. For example, maybe you're wondering, with benefit of hindsight, what President Obama's all-time greatest speech was?

Obviously, this is entirely open to interpretation and argument, since there's no objective, universal standard by which to judge the caliber of a piece of public speaking. But if you're looking for a strong contender, and a delivery by the 44th president that will likely echo throughout history, you need look no further than one of the most tragic occasions of his presidency, which happened last year ― when he delivered the eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney of Charleston, South Carolina, as well as the eight other black parishioners of Emanuel AME Church who died in a racist massacre.

If you never watched or read Obama's remarks at the time, be fore warned, they're extremely powerful and evocative, and came at a time of intense public grief. But it's also one of the most powerful addresses he's ever given, and it deserves to be spotlighted for its depth, emotion, and grace.

C-SPAN on YouTube

Here's the full text of Obama's remarks at the College of Charleston, as provided by the White House website.

US President Barack Obama pauses while delivering the eulogy during the funeral of Rev. and South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, at the College of Charleston TD Arena, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 26, 2015.
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 26: U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by church leaders before delivering the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service June 26, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21 years old, is accused of killing nine people on June 17th during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

At this point in the eulogy, Obama reached the point which countless news outlets reported as the lede, a remarkable moment in American presidential history ― he began leading the assembled crowd in the singing of Amazing Grace.

C-SPAN on YouTube
US President Barack Obama (C) is embraced by an Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) bishop after delivering the eulogy at the funeral of slain pastor, Rev. and South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, at the College of Charleston TD Arena, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 26, 2015. US President Barack Obama made a fresh pitch for tighter gun controls as he eulogized the pastor killed in the Charleston church shootings, saying Americans had ignored the toll of gun violence for too long.

If you're looking for a single speech or address in which Obama reached his rhetorical, emotional, and personal peak, this eulogy in South Carolina, under incredibly intense and heartbreaking circumstances, just might be the one. So, if you have the heart and spirit for it, you ought to give it a second look ― after all, our 44th president will not remain in the office for much longer. And, to put it mildly, it seems doubtful that you'll hear a speech like this over the next four-to-eight years.