Wright: Obama Shows That Blacks Shouldn't Accept Limits

January 19, 2009 - 8:16 AM
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Washington (AP) - Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, said Sunday that the lesson in Obama's rise to the White House is that black people shouldn't limit themselves -- or allow others to.
 
Wright had been Obama's longtime pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago before Obama quit the church and ended the relationship with Wright during the presidential campaign. Obama acted after the uproar over some of Wright's videotaped sermons, in which he blamed the U.S. for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, among other things.
 
Two days before Obama takes the oath of office, becoming the nation's first black president, Wright delivered an encouraging sermon during worship services at Howard University, urging those watching him from inside Crampton Auditorium, and two overflow rooms elsewhere on campus, to follow Obama's example and shrug off the negativity of others.
 
Wright said Obama would not be the president-elect had he listened to the voices of those who doubted whether he could win the caucuses in mostly white Iowa, the Democratic presidential nomination and the presidency itself.
 
Of Obama, he said the Lord had "stepped into his story and gave him a new attitude."
 
"The scrawny kid with the big ears and the funny name said, 'Yes, we can,'" said Wright, who for the past five years has delivered the sermon at Howard on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.
 
Obama, he said, had freed himself from "other people trying to put him in a prison, defining him as they saw him."
 
"No more seeing ourselves through the eyes of others who don't look like us," added Wright, now pastor emeritus at Trinity United. "We're now free and seeing ourselves through the eyes of a God who loves us and loves all of God's children equally."
 
As Wright waited on stage to deliver his hour-long sermon, Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters attended Sunday services across town at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church.
 
A graduate of Howard, Wright had been Obama's minister for 20 years. He helped Obama embrace Christianity, officiated at Obama's wedding and baptized Obama and his two daughters.
 
But Obama resigned from Trinity United and, ultimately, cut ties with Wright because of the uproar caused by videotaped snippets of some of Wright's sermons, in which he shouted "God damn America" and accused the government of creating AIDS.
 
Campaign ads during the presidential campaign portrayed Wright as a bigot and asked why Obama would listen to him for so many years.