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Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting

to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him

the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that.



Trinity United Church of Christ Chicago   / The Truth About Trinity United Church of Christ

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Setting the Record Straight with the New York Times

Letter from Reverend Jeremiah Wright

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11 March 2007

Jodi Kantor
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York,
New York 10036-3959

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.

For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed.

I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just “in word only.”  I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.

Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.

I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s “Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of “Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.

The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin” because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.”  The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.

Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana.  Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!

Sincerely and respectfully yours,

Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
Senior Pastor
Trinity United Church of Christ

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I was among the speakers at the two-day funeral service for Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III, enormous scholar of the psychology and the education of people of African descent,

As we assembled last August at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel of Morehouse College, in my opinion the most powerful, most eloquent, most stirring speaker by far was the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, who was with Dr. Hilliard in Egypt during his terminal illness. 

Reverend Wright's eulogy stirred the soul of all assembled. Just prior to the start of the service I asked Reverend Wright if he had been instrumental in getting Senator Barack Obama to intervene in bringing Dr. Hilliard's body back from Cairo. The answer was yes, Senator Obama had used his influence to get the State Department to convince the Egyptian government to release Dr. Hilliard to his beloved Atlanta.

Frequently, Americans who die overseas are never returned home. Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an electrifying preacher whose African-centered liberation theology challenges racism and Euro-centrism, challenges his congregation to self and group empowerment.

I have heard a number of his sermons on the Internet. I admire him, and I support both Jeremiah Wright and his congregant, Senator Barack Obama.Donald H. Smith, Ph.D.

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About the Rev Jeremiah Wright—The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, 66, retired last month as pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, whose motto is "unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian." He is a beloved figure in African-American Christian circles and a frequent guest in pulpits around the country. After arriving at Trinity in 1972, he built a 6,000-member congregation. His preaching melds detailed scriptural analysis, black power, Afrocentrism and an emphasis on social justice. Wright's most powerful influence, said several ministers and scholars who have followed his career, is black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as a guide to combating oppression of African Americans. He attracts audiences because of, not in spite of, his outspoken critiques of racism and inequality, Dwight Hopkins, a professor at University of Chicago Divinity School, said last year. Wright's defenders said the statements that have been playing this week are taken out of context, and he is not anti-white. The United Church of Christ, the denomination of the Chicago church, is overwhelmingly white. And Wright is an equal-opportunity critic, often delivering scorching lectures about black society, telling audiences to improve their educations and work ethic. Seattle Times

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Thanks so much for Rev. Wright's letter.  Why would the minister think that he would get an honest portrayal following his interview with an NYT's reporter?  Why do we trust these people? . . . . We need to replace hope and idealism with realism and clear vision!Floyd

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And then the good reverend goes on a right wing talk programFox News with host Sean Hannityexpecting to be coddled, rather than to be used and abused. But besides these exposures for right wing exploitation, Jeremiah Wright committed an over the top flourish in his sermon and for people to excuse it as 100% truth is rather extreme and that kind of public politic is unproductive. We need to be clear and realistic and an uncritical defense of Wright is a matter of spinning wheels. Let the man sit on his own bottom and defend himself as much as he willRudy

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Of National Lies and Racial Amnesia—Whites are easily shocked by what we see and hear from Pastor Wright and Trinity Church, because what we see and hear so thoroughly challenges our understanding of who we are as a nation. But black people have never, for the most part, believed in the imagery of the "shining city on a hill," for they have never had the option of looking at their nation and ignoring the mountain-sized warts still dotting its face when it comes to race. Black people do not, in the main, get misty eyed at the sight of the flag the way white people do--and this is true even for millions of black veterans--for they understand that the nation for whom that flag waves is still not fully committed to their own equality. They have a harder time singing those tunes that white people seem so eager to belt out, like "God Bless America," for they know that whites sang those words loudly and proudly even as they were enforcing Jim Crow segregation, rioting against blacks who dared move into previously white neighborhoods, throwing rocks at Dr. King and then cheering, as so many did, when they heard the news that he had been assassinated. . . . So white folks are mad at Jeremiah Wright because he challenges their views about their country. Meanwhile, those same white folks, and their ministers and priests, every week put forth a false image of the God Jeremiah Wright serves, and yet it is whites who feel we have the right to be offended. Pardon me, but something is wrong here, and whatever it is, is not to be found at Trinity United Church of Christ.Lip Magazine

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Baraka Message: Taking Up Obama's MantleMy line at Black Left meeting & Black Radical Congress is solidify a political line, with that admitted united front as broad leadership and then mobilize masses of Black and Progressive people to descend on Denver for Dem convention with demonstrations, signs, petitions, literature and strategy and tactics for influencing what is sure to be the attempt at the crookedest of all conventions. The people are already excited by the primaries and the crude tricks of the bourgeoisie. We shd take up Obama's mantle, both serving as his defense (the defense of democracy) and using this presence to make impact on the campaign. The Rev Wright "flap" was actually positive, now the race question is squarely in the campaigns and the bourgeoisie will push and push it, but it should serve to further inflame the masses, who have real ties with the Black church and know what Wright said is historically true. . . . I will raise this at a meeting in Harlem next weekAmiri Baraka

This kind of action could be the start of the movement that is needed to push the humanitarian agenda Obama gives voice.—Damu

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INTERVIEW with Rev Jeremiah WrightYeah, I am not popular. I'm really not known. People have perspectives about me. In fact, one article recently said that I was a maverick. I am not your typical garden-variety African-American clergy person, and because I'm not—he was talking about organizing the churches in those early days. I said, man, you don't know who you're talking to. They don't like me. I'm not well liked in the city of Chicago, so you tell them you're a member of Trinity, you're going to turn off preachers before they ever get to know you, 'cause they're going to associate you with me, and just that association could be a negative in terms of how you are perceived in their eyes before you open your mouth—"Oh, you go to Jeremiah's church." That kind of negative imaging I said might be harmful to him in terms of what he was trying to do in building coalitions and getting other churches to do things, again, for the benefit of the people. That would never happen just because they're going to associate your name with mine. That could be detrimental, I told him back then. It holds just as true, even more so, now. In fact, I just shared with, I was trying to remember who it is, somebody in public life was asking me about Barack, and I said listen, Barack might be forced by the media and/or by supporters to be very absent from this church and to put distance between our church and himself. As a politician, he might be forced into that. I have not talked to him about that at all. It's just that my read just of the blogs and what the right-Christian-wing leaders have said about him being a part of our church over past three months says this is—you think it's ugly now, it's going to get worse, it's going to get much worse. For survival's sake, as a politician he just might have to not—not that I love you less, I love me more. I'll never get elected as long as they keep harping on this. And that's—again, I haven't talked to him about that at allPBS Interview

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Obama found a home in his church—Members are expected to volunteer for one or more of these ministries. They usually announce their choice on the same day they're baptized, said Jane Fisler Hoffman, a United Church of Christ minister who joined Trinity. "There's this kind of constant encouragement to live your faith, learn your faith," she said.  The church proclaims itself "unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian." It supports charity work in Africa, gives some of its ministries Swahili names, uses Africa-themed decorations. People familiar with Trinity compare its emphasis on African culture to the way some Catholic churches play up Irish or Italian roots. And they emphatically reject the accusations in widely circulated e-mails that the church is separatist or turns away white members. "That's such a bunch of hooey," said Hoffman, who is white. She tells the story of a group of young Germans visiting the church. Wright met with them before the service and prayed with them in German, she said. Later, he delivered part of his sermon in German and the choir sang in German. "To me, it's a testimony that this is not a church that rejects people of other cultures and races," she said. She and others say Wright is far from the hothead he may appear to be in video excerpts. They describe him as a serious biblical scholar who thinks carefully about issues. "Wright is one of the most respected pastors in the African-American church in the United States," said Kellman, who nevertheless says Wright "blew it" in a few sermons. Pfleger, one of Chicago's most outspoken members of the clergy, said Wright and Obama are similar in their intellectual approach. "They examine things, they study things. They are not quick to make judgments," he said. Wright's sermons, even when they included strong critiques of racism and inequality in America, were always grounded in the Bible, church members said. Wright sometimes used harsh, painful language, his supporters acknowledge, but mostly he was well within a black tradition of emotional, social commentary. "It's just speaking a different language to a slightly different culture," said Dwight Hopkins, a Trinity member and a theology professor at the University of Chicago, "and I can see how someone in the suburbs in the high Episcopal church would see those snippets as angry."Yahoo

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Who is the real patriot?

In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing President John F. Kennedy's challenge to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," gave up his student deferment, left college in Virginia and voluntarily joined the Marines. In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of service in the Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They provide medical assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.)

The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian and became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was assigned to the Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval Hospital, as a member of the commander in chief's medical team, and helped care for President Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery. For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the White House awarded him three letters of commendation.

 What is even more remarkable is that this man entered the Marines and Navy not many years after the two branches began to become integrated. While this young man was serving six years on active duty, Vice President Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the Marine/sailor, received five deferments, four for being an undergraduate and graduate student and one for being a prospective father. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both five years younger than the African-American youth, used their student deferments to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on active duty through family connections.

The young man who interrupted his studies to serve his country for six years or our three political leaders who beat the system?

Are the patriots the people who actually sacrifice something or those who merely talk about their love of the country? After leaving the service of his country, the young African-American finished his final year of college, entered the seminary, was ordained as a minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church in one of America's biggest cities.  This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, who has been in the news for comments he made over the last three decades. Since these comments became public we have heard criticisms, condemnations, denouncements and rejections of his comments and him. We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of a select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons.

Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and should be condemned, but in calling him "unpatriotic," let us not forget that this is a man who gave up six of the most productive years of his life to serve his country. How many of Wright's detractors—Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to name but a few—volunteered for service, and did so under the often tumultuous circumstances of a newly integrated armed forces and a society in the midst of a civil rights struggle? Not many. While words do count, so do actions. Let us not forget that, for whatever Rev. Wright may have said over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated his patriotism.ChicagoTribune

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Rudy, A NOTE:  In 1967, I was preparing to start graduate school when the dreaded letter came with that "Greetings"... from an Uncle who never wanted me in the family (until the family needed cannon fodder and then all of us went from niggers to nephews).  I, thinking that an old knee injury would get me out, reported.  I flunked the injured knee test when asked to walk across a small room.  That was completed in two steps and they determined my knee was okay.

I reported and rode a bus to New Orleans (from Los Angeles) hoping that the knee would do it's thing and puff up.  Of course, it only stiffened a little and there wasn't another test when I arrived.  Being your "college graduate smartass" I had to raise a question when asked to step forward and take the oath.  "What happens if I don't step forward and take this oath?"

I was informed by a gentleman wearing a metal bird on  his shoulder that my options were simple.  If I did NOT step forward and take the oath, I would be taken directly to Angola where I would serve five years.  If I DID take the oath, I would be given thirty days off annually and occasional three day passes.  I took the oath.  I think that some of the folk that I managed to drive crazy during those two years would have preferred that I had gone to Angola.  I learned from my time in jail back in 1961 that I didn't have the temperament for such.  I went, served and - to this day - don't qualify as a patriot.  The military, as was its surrounding society - was run by racists - and I might have been able to do some good for a few folk because I knew the 22-5 and how to use it.  Being a writer, I also had the opportunity to pass on my feelings and information to some of my friends in the civilian press that helped shake the foundation of lies that the war was built on.

I will never respect the Bushitters and those who were able to get away based on money and color.CES

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Some Blind to Self Evident Truths—Racism in America and Other Uncomfortable Facts—Remarks regarding racism in America by Rev. Jeremiah Wright—the retiring pastor of the Chicago church Obama attends—have become fodder in this year's contentious presidential campaign. Yet, is Wright wrong about racism--as Obama stated in that speech--or is he right? Are Wright's remarks treasonous as some critics proclaim or do his remarks reveal truths that for many are not self-evident?

Many slam Wright for raising a historically correct albeit uncomfortable fact: the role of racism in America's founding. The US Constitution that Obama quoted at the outset of his speech enshrined slavery—a point the Senator discussed in the first dozen sentences of that speech. America's first president, George Washington, kept slaves in the Executive Mansion he occupied in Philadelphia during part of his presidency.

The location of the stable where Washington's slaves lived in Philadelphia is literally at the entrance of the current pavilion housing the iconic Liberty Bell. That stable housing Washington's slaves was steps from Independence Hall, the building where America's Founders approved the Constitution. Rev. Wright is not the first black to provoke criticism for criticizing constitutional shortcomings.

Legendary US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall sparked a firestorm in 1987 when he criticized imperfections in the Constitution—like slavery and barring women from voting—during a speech in Philadelphia celebrating the bicentennial of that document. Critics call Rev. Wright un-American for assailing America's skewed priorities like spending for prisons while short-changing public education and job creation. During the 1990s Pennsylvania authorities built eleven new prisons yet only one new public high school in Philadelphia, Rev. Wright's hometown. According to Pa government statistics, most of the people sent to that state's prisons are unemployed and undereducated.  Counterpunch

posted 18 March 2008

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

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By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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