The Media Lynching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Part 1 of 3): How a 36 year career of evangelism and activism is reduced to a 30 second sound bite
Sick…disgusted…appalled. Those were some of the feelings that washed over me as I listened to the mainstream media launch an all out assault on Dr. Jeremiah Wright Jr. It should have been no surprise, but even my wary eyes were taken aback by the ferocity of the attacks on Dr. Wright.
I have had the pleasure to observe the gospel genius and hermeneutical excellence of Dr. Wright for the last 10 years since joining Friendship-West Baptist Church. Dr. Wright serves as father in the ministry to my pastor, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III. My frustration with the media last week drove me to turn off my television and withdraw from all things politics like someone in alcoholism rehabilitation. It was a sermon today by Dr. Haynes that helped me gather my thoughts to the point where I can now express my feelings.
What is most shameful about this entire episode with Dr. Wright and Barack Obama is that it shows how little America knows about and how much less America cares about the black church. A black preacher uttering words from the pulpit regarding America’s racist past and present is neither novel or unique.
Now the same media structure that constantly undermined Dr. Martin Luther King, and the same government that tapped every phone that he used, wants to prop him up as an example of “color-blind” preaching. The Dr. King who in his day was considered too radical and color concerned by his own contemporaries is now painted as a kumbaya fella who white folks would like to sit down and have a latte with. Save it America.
I hear the question: What is the need for a black church in today’s society.? Is that a joke? I mean when someone fixes their mouth to ask an idiotic question like that, I’m left to wonder what planet -less known what country- that person is living on.
Ask the slave masters who did not invite their hired property to worship with them why there is a black church. Or ask the people who use the symbol of Christ’s suffering as an instrument of hate and fear.
Ask yourself, if you are a Christian, why you don’t make the first step and join a predominantly black congregation. Of course that makes no sense, right? It’s usually expected that African-Americans abandoned our heritage and integrate/assimilate with our white brethren in the name of progress. Well that street runs both ways.
Ask Richard Allen why there is a black church. Allen’s legacy is the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination. He believed it better for black parishioners to have their own places of worship rather than adhere to the dictates and demands of white church leaders who told black church goers when and where they could worship.
You cannot separate the African-American struggle for justice and the black church. Think Frederick Douglass, who in 1839 was licensed to preach in the AME Church. Think Denmark Vesey, a founder of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston who was executed for his part in organizing a slave uprising in that very city.
Whether its Jeremiah Wright in Chicago, Illinois or the late Rev. A.M. Seamon in Paris, Texas, the black preacher has made it his business to stand up for his people knowing no one else in America would do so. Black preachers have always been labeled as radicals when speaking truth to power. That remains unchanged to this day.
Dr. Wright, a man who retired just last month after a 36-year ministry, now watches as his legacy is distorted and dismantled by those who would do anything to see Barack Obama fall short in his bid for the White House. In the YouTube clip that I saw, Dr. Wright talked about an America where white men controlled the resources and controlled the access to wealth in this country. What’s so radical about that? If it’s a lie please tell me.