Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jeremiah Wright
Much as "white Amur'kah" is all askeered of the Rev. Wright's preaching, I think it worthwhile -- on the fortieth anniversary of the slaying of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- to provide this excerpt from another minister, the Rev. Amos C. Brown, published in today's S.F. Chronicle, talking about his own sermon this Easter:
Yes, I did list the social sins of America, which we, like Cleopas and his friend, must make a U-turn from: That is, to get off at the exit of enlightenment, make a right turn on the street of understanding and stop at the house of the abiding presence where Jesus talks to us and shows us how to admit our mistakes and receive our pardon.Say "Amen", someone....
Chronicle staff writer Cecilia M. Vega covered our worship celebration. She was there because, in the wake of the confusion over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's allegedly inflammatory and unpatriotic sermons delivered in the home church of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Chicago, she wanted to find out if this were the rule, rather than the exception, in black pulpits in America.
In her report, she characterized my style of preaching as fiery, and that it sounded vaguely familiar to the confrontational sermons delivered by the Rev. Wright.
Her response reminded me of the dictum: "Two men look outside of prison bars, one saw mud and the other saw stars." Unfortunately, blacks and whites in America have been prisoners for the most part of two realities, one of privilege and power and the other, of too much oppression and denial.
As regards to Wright's and my style of preaching; we are not angry; we are not inflammatory; we just tell the truth with passion and enthusiasm. And we will not be silent when persons mischaracterize our witness as anger.
If white preachers - Billy Graham, Pat Robinson, Jerry Falwell and others - can exercise their freedoms, and sometimes say the wrong things - as the facts document - we should be able to say the right things on the behalf of social justice and peace, and not be demonized by detractors.
Finally, I present as a lesson the wisdom of an old adage: "People tend to hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they do not know each other, and they don't know each other because of a lack of communication."
When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who we honor today on the 40th anniversary of his assassination, delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963, he began by emphasizing the evils, the shortcomings and injustices of America.
He said, "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the 'unalienable Rights' of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' "
It is my prayer and hope that we would learn from this, that we would open up communication, get over the racial divide in faith communities and in every town and city. We must not derail this national election with the diversionary tactics of making one sermon of the Rev. Wright the issue.
Let us all make a U-Turn and get on the right track that will enable us to elect leadership that will have answers to the loss of homes, a crumbling infrastructure, poor educational opportunities, Social Security, global warming, crime and the crisis of spirit in America.
And let's get off this scare-mongering, "racism"-accusing, mischaracterisation of what the Revs. Wright and King, Jr. have said. If someone is afraid that loud black men are demanding what this country has so long denied, both de jure and de facto, they are just afraid of giving up what was not rightfully theirs. And forgetting that our country is not a "zero-sum game".