Toward a Black Theology

Why did Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. reach the national spotlight?

Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. (1941–), one of the most influential black ministers in America, reached the national spotlight during President Barack Obama’s first run for the U.S. Presidency. The media often misunderstood and misinterpreted his messages and method of delivery. Wright speaks from the perspective of black liberation and transformative theology. Wright, already one of black America’s most widely acclaimed preachers due to his political activism, concern with social issues, and a powerful and dynamic force in the pulpit, is a sought-after lecturer and preacher. He drew widespread attention, however, in March 2008, during the Democratic presidential race. He had been a close advisor to presidential candidate Barack Obama, and Obama and his family were among Wright’s parishioners. Reporters who were following the race uncovered several of Wright’s comments and took many out of context. For example, the reporters quoted Wright’s comment “God damn America” and said that Wright accused America of bringing on the 9/11 terrorist attack upon itself. Negative reactions to Wright followed. Obama distanced himself from Wright and withdrew membership from his church. The entire controversy sparked national debate about religion in politics and the African American community.


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