President Obama spoke with NBC News’ Lester Holt in an exclusive interview prior to giving his farewell address Tuesday night.
In this excerpt, Obama reflects on his decision to address race in America at the funeral for South Carolina State Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims killed in the 2015 Charleston church shooting.
“This was a moment when I think the entire country recognized, not just the evil that had been perpetrated, but also this amazing response on the part of these people in this church, who had seen friends and family gunned down,” he said. “There were open hearts at that moment.”