Time for Jeremiah Wright T.V. to come to an end

On Friday, Dr. Jeremiah Wright gave an insightful interview with Bill Moyers that I thought helped to better explain the basis for some of the “controversial” comments that he made which had been taken out of context. Sunday night, CNN gave Dr. Wright a forum to express himself uncut and unedited as he spoke at an NAACP banquet. And then on Monday, all hell broke loose.

To step back for a moment, Sunday morning at my church, I could hear the hurt and betrayal Dr. Wright felt for all of the entities who canceled his speaking engagements after the Fox News ambush. Dr. Wright listed the Urban League as well as a number of black colleges who had uninvited him. It must hurt to see those you’ve spent a career advocating for turn their back on you due to nothing that you have done.

But now we are at a new place and playing by a new set of rules. It is my belief that the media laid a trap for Dr. Wright on Monday. A trap which he sprung very much to their liking. I heard Dr. Wright answer questions posed to him before the National Press Club on Monday. In real time it didn’t sound all that bad. But in reality he was creating a whole new set of sound bites for Barack Obama’s opponents to use against him.

There’s not doubt people are mad. Black folks are upset with Dr. Wright for choosing now as the time to fight this battle and launch into this conversation. I understand the frustration. As Tavis Smiley and many politicians have found out, the African-American community doesn’t appreciate anyone who may slow the momentum of Obama’s White House run.

The timing is no doubt odd. I get that. But don’t lose sight of the true disconnect here. As Father Michael Pfleger mentioned in a recent interview, Dr. Wright’s sermons were delivered in a family atmosphere that a church congregation provides. The words have a whole different feel outside of the church house, especially in the antiseptic unforgiving land of television.

Though Dr. Wright had been off the scene since the madness broke out, there was a slow process of healing and understanding going on behind the scenes. A website popped up called The Truth About Trinity United Church of Christ. It was there that I learned that Dr. Wright was an ex-Marine, having cared for President Lyndon Johnson during a hospital stay. It was The Truth About Trinity where I saw a picture of Dr. Wright and President Bill Clinton. Wright was at the White House at a prayer breakfast during Clinton’s time of need.

Bloggers have been working behind the scene, disseminating the information to those who seek to get a better understanding. Of course there will always be people who will never change their view. But the conversation was moving to a place where all parties were beginning to at least engage one another.

People had found a 21st century means of combating the 20th Century attack that had been launched against the good Reverend Wright. A 21st century strategy is the only path to victory, as a draw will not do in this case.
Dr. Wright is going to have to trust those around him to take up his cause. None of us want to have to call on others to fight our battles. But at this point that’s what he is going to have to do. Barack Obama has further distanced himself from his former pastor as was to be expected.

What’s most important here is the outcome. Not so much a Barack Obama presidency, which I believe is still wholly possible. But the deliverance of African-Americans from our status in this nation, and the hope of reconciling this nation’s past with its present and future.

In a sense, Barack Obama was right. The Jeremiah Wright we see on the T.V. screen is not the man that most of us know. It’s because the man who speaks five languages and has four earned degrees cannot be comprehended in that medium. That medium does not understand what “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian” means.

The Dr. Wright that most of us know is the one who stands boldly in the pulpit proclaiming the Word of God. We know him as a teacher of African history. Others know him as a father figure with a brilliant smile and gentle demeanor.

The man we see on T.V. is none of that. And as long as the powers that be pull the strings we will never have the chance to see the Jeremiah Wright we’ve all come to love so much. I’m saddened by what this is doing to Obama’s presidential bid, but it pains me even more to see Dr. Wright allow the media to further distort his legacy. He did not ask for this burden, nor does he deserve it. And he doesn’t have to bear it alone.

So now is the time. The time for Dr. Wright to put this conversation on hold, and allow the people of America -all of its people- to get back to the issue that is at hand. He should trust that those he has groomed for a time such as this -Barack Obama, Frederick D. Haynes III, Rev. Otis Moss, III- can pick up where he has left off, and further the cause he has worked so diligently towards.

A friend of mine shared a proverb with me once. He said “the truth spoken out of season bears no fruit.” This is not the season.

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