Obama’s former pastor addresses Detroit NAACP dinner
By JEFF KAROUB
Associated Press Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The outspoken former pastor of Barack Obama told an audience of 10,000 at an NAACP dinner on Sunday that despite what his critics say, he is descriptive, not divisive, when he speaks about racial injustices.
“I describe the conditions in this country,” the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. said during the 53rd annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner held by the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“I’m not here for political reasons,” Wright said. “I’m not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seem like I am running for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office. I’ve been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I’m not tired yet.”
By speaking at the event, Wright was following in the footsteps of Obama and the senator’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as former President Bill Clinton. It’s a $150-a-plate fund raiser billed as America’s largest sit-down dinner.
“I am not one of the most divisive” black spiritual leaders, he said. “I’m one of the most descriptive.”
Wright received a long, loud standing ovation.
He became an issue in the presidential race in March after the circulation of videos of old sermons in which he accused the U.S. government of racism and accused it of flooding black neighborhoods with drugs.
In a sermon days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Wright said that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” after it dropped atomic bombs on Japan and that the United States “supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans.”
The videos, circulated widely on television and the Internet, knocked Obama’s presidential campaign off stride. The Illinois senator distanced himself from the comments of Wright, whom he has known for 20 years.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, said at a news conference before the dinner that he was excited to invite the “hottest brother in America right now.”
“It just presented an opportunity for us to be able to set the record straight outside of any political consideration,” Anthony said.
Wright, who is retiring as pastor of the 8,000-member Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, is scheduled to speak Monday to the National Press Club in Washington.
Published in The Messenger 4.28.08