Before his politically expedient break with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama said his longtime pastor “has been like family to me.” Obama said he could “no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”
Obama admitted he attended Wright’s church about twice a month over 20 years. According to The New York Times, Obama “fortified himself with recordings of Mr. Wright’s sermons” even while he attended Harvard. Yet, over the course of nearly 500 sermons, Obama claims he never once heard any of Wright’s bigoted remarks. A reading of Wright’s many published works and sermons suggests Obama is lying about what he heard.
Racial purity and racial separatism were recurring Wright themes. “Black women were raped by the millions,” claimed Wright in his 1996 book "When Black Men Stand Up for God: Reflections on the Million Man March." “Look around your church or neighborhood at the colors of African people today. America is the land of our trouble,” he wrote in "Africans Who Shaped Our Faith." Wright called O.J. Simpson and Clarence Thomas, two famous black men who married white women, “‘Negroes’ . . . out of sync with their humanity, and out of touch with reality.”
At least since 1993, Wright sermonized against integration. Assimilation was a “learned behavior from our elders,” preached Wright. “Sometimes the elders . . . have given us bad advice. They were worried about our being accepted. They were concerned about our not being liked. They wanted us to talk like white folks talk, to behave like white folks behave.
"They wanted us to sing like white folks sing. They wanted us to worship like white folks worship. Sometimes the elders have given us bad advice. They have asked us to forget who we are and take on a training program that teaches us that we ‘is’ what we ‘ain’t.’”
Wright warned parishioners that “When you forget who you are, you start letting your behavior be determined by the enemy’s expectations. How you act is based upon what they think. And that sickness is perpetuated, because through assimilation and acculturation, you now think just like they think.” Wright preached, “If you are not European, stop pretending you are.” In other words, stop acting and thinking “white.”
In his memoirs, Obama recounted his first meeting with Wright. Obama remembered a Trinity brochure urging parishioners to “become black Christian activists, soldiers for black freedom.” It contained “guiding principles — a ‘Black Value System’ — that the congregation had adopted in 1979.”
These included a “commitment to the black community, commitment to the black family, adherence to the black work ethics and a pledge to make all fruits of developing acquired skills available to the black community.” Obama wrote that these and other black-oriented views comprised “a sensible, heartfelt list.”
In that first meeting, Wright railed against “These miseducated [sic] brothers, like that sociologist at the University of Chicago, talking about ‘the declining significance of race.’ Now, what country is he living in?” Wright was likely referring to Dr. William Julius Wilson who argued in his 1978 book "The Declining Significance of Race" that the importance of race in determining one’s life chances in America was waning.
Wright’s sermons are notorious for racist comments about “white arrogance,” “the United States of White America,” and “the U.S. of KKK.” Wright accused the U.S. government of conspiring against black people. “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied,” he claimed in one sermon.
In his 1995 book "Africans Who Shaped Our Faith" Wright wrote, “Modern reasoning tries to avoid the issue of race and pretend that race really doesn’t matter. That is a lie. Race does matter. Race is a reality that one cannot ignore. America was founded on racism. America lives and breathes racism. In this country, racism is as natural as motherhood, apple pie and the fourth of July. Many black people have been deluded into thinking that our BMWs, Lexuses, Porsches, Benzes, titles, heavily mortgaged condos, and living environments can influence people who are fundamentally immoral.”
The first Wright sermon Obama heard was titled “The Audacity of Hope.” Obama borrowed that title for his second book. In that sermon, Wright bashed “establishment blacks” and “assimilated Negroes.” These were the blacks, according to Wright, who had integrated into mainstream American culture. Wright also criticized a world “where white folks’ greed runs a world in need.”
Recalling that sermon Obama wrote, “Those stories — of survival and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed at once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black.”
Obama observed of Trinity’s congregants that “Not all of what these people sought was strictly religious . . . It occurred to me that Trinity, with its African themes, its emphasis on black history, continued the role . . . as a redistributor of values and circulator of ideas.”
Wright did not confine his racist, bigoted and anti-American remarks to the Trinity pulpit. On Aug. 23, 2007, he delivered a eulogy at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. Wright referred to America’s Founding Fathers as the “fondling fathers,” called Texas “the cradle of dehumanization,” made an ethnic slur about Italians and “their garlic noses,” repeatedly warned against “white enemies,” and derided “Africans who can out-white, white folks . . . [because] they’re British all down in their bones.” Wright cautioned mourners of “White supremacist brainwashing, passing itself off as education.”
Contrary to his denials, Obama no doubt heard Wright’s racist views, anti-American rants, and profanity-laden sermons. Knowing they would pose a significant problem, Obama canceled his invitation for Wright to deliver the invocation at the 2007 announcement of his presidential candidacy.
Astonishingly, Obama claims he never heard a single bigoted or racist remark from Jeremiah Wright. However, Wright’s voluminous record and Obama’s 20-year friendship suggest otherwise.
Mark Hyman is an award-winning news commentator for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
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