Jeremiah and Martin

In his column in this week’s America, Fr. John Kavanaugh takes another look at the infamous speeches of Jeremiah Wright, and warns against dismissing his criticisms of U.S. society as the rantings of a crackpot. In Friday’s Los Angeles Times, Michael Eric Dyson draws an intriguing comparison between Wright and Martin Luther King, who was killed 40 years ago this month:
Before 1965, King was upbeat and bright, his belief in white America’s ability to change by moral suasion resilient and durable. That is the leader we have come to know during annual King commemorations. After 1965, King was darker and angrier; he grew more skeptical about the willingness of America to change without great social coercion. King’s skepticism and anger were often muted when he spoke to white America, but they routinely resonated in black sanctuaries and meeting halls across the land. [snip] Perhaps nothing might surprise -- or shock -- white Americans more than to discover that King said in 1967: "I am sorry to have to say that the vast majority of white Americans are racist, either consciously or unconsciously." In a sermon to his congregation in 1968, King openly questioned whether blacks should celebrate the nation’s 1976 bicentennial. "You know why?" King asked. "Because it [the Declaration of Independence] has never had any real meaning in terms of implementation in our lives."
As Prof. Dyson muses in an interview with EURweb, one wonders how these speeches would have played on YouTube. Tim Reidy
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 8 months ago
Understanding King, Wright, Obama, and America I have given very serious thought to Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s words and what I would do if I were Barack Obama. I know neither man nor am I an African-American. Yet, as Barack rightly says; “words count.” Although I am not black, I have known black men who were as angry as Jeremiah Wright appears to be. I have learned that such anger, and perhaps hatred as well, is born out of a tremendous sense of pain and unrequited injustice. Such suffering is only truly known by experiencing it, and by living with the on-going affects of its poison. Much has been said about “White Guilt”, and there are always those who will exploit guilt or rather the sensitivities of well meaning but frequently misguided people. However, I do not feel guilty about what has happened to African-Americans. What I do feel is outrage and disgust for any such suffering where ever and to whom ever it occurs. Moreover, I believe that a great many Americans of all races will agree that that pain which is still festering in the collective souls of many of the minorities in America is, indeed, understandable. Nevertheless, hatred begets hatred and nothing good can come of it. Still, something good can come out of our recognition of such deep and tormenting pain. I have heard the suffering embedded in the words of Jeremiah Wright. I do not believe that his words are always so angry, yet it would not be possible for an honest man to express himself without being influenced by his suffering. This, too, is very evident in the words of Martin Luther King. To me there is a distinction, in that there are personal struggles within every person. The outcomes of such battles are seldom known, but I would venture to say that many of them are far more terrible than what actually emerges. Unfortunately, some are not. Sincerely, Harold A. Fischer 508 Holbrook Rd. Virginia Beach, VA. 23452 [email protected]

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