Speaking in Detroit, at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's 53rd annual "Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner," Rev. Jeremiah Wright took on his critics even while he spoke of a new, unified day coming.
You can watch the speech HERE.
Addressing a local Republican official who'd called Wright “divisive," Wright told the welcoming crowd in his keynote address, "I am not one of the most 'divisive.' Tell him the word is 'descriptive.' I describe the conditions in this country -- conditions divide, not my description."
Wright's appearance guaranteed more media attention for the former pastor of the Democratic president frontrunner, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, who likely had hoped the issue -- and Wright -- would go away. In more news that would no doubt trouble Obama, Wright mentioned that he was working on a book.
"I'm not here for political reasons," Wright said. "I'm not a politician." He said that might surprise in the crowd of 10,000 since "many in the corporate-owned media have made it seem that I'm running for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office; I've been running for Jesus for a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet."
Most of Wright's speech addressed the theme of the dinner, “A Change is Gonna Come,” talking about the differences between different cultures and races, saying "a change is coming because we no longer see others as being deficient…Different doesn't mean deficient."
"The black religious tradition is different," he said in comments that seemed to address the controversy about his sermons. "We do it a different way."
Wright discussed how different groups have seen other groups as "deficient." After saying English-speakers saw Arabic-speakers as "being deficient," Wright mentioned Obama almost as an aside.
"Please run and tell my stuck-on-stupid friends that Arabic is a language -- is a language, it is not a religion," he said. "Barack HUSSEIN Obama," he said, emphasizing the Illinois senator's middle name dramatically, "Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Barack HUSSEIN Obama. There are Arabic-speaking Christians, there Arabic-speaking Jews, Arabic-speaking Muslims and Arabic-speaking atheists. Arabic is a language, it is not a religion. Stop trying to scare folks by giving them this Arabic name like it's some disease."
The bulk of his remarks addressed, however, different groups seeing each other as deficient. He acted out the differences between marching bands at predominantly black and predominantly white colleges. "Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality," he said. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. "Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style," he said. "They have a different way of learning." And so on.
After jokingly mocking the Boston accents of former Presidents John F. and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Wright said, "nobody says to a Kennedy, 'You speak bad English,' only to a black child was that said."Wright said that he believes "a change is going to come, 'cause many of us are committed to change how we see others who are different."
Earlier in the day, Wright delivered two sermons at the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, referring to his "public crucifixion," according to the Houston Chronicle. Wright will address the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Monday morning.