The Corner

Wright’s Wrongs

A reader as skeptical as I am of Obama’s speech:

Mr. Derbyshire — In Obama’s speech he talks about Jeremiah Wright’s early years when “segregation was the law of the land” and his humiliation and fear therefrom.

I’m wondering how exactly that jibes with Wright’s actual experience. He was born in a Philadelphia suburb, the son of a Baptist minister. Now, I’m not a history expert, but I’m thinking that there wasn’t any segregation in Philadelphia in 1941, when Wright was born. And what sort of humiliation and fear was he the victim of growing up the son of a Baptist minister? I’m skeptical, but I’d like to hear about it. He certainly could have been the object of prejudice, but that’s not exactly the same thing.

Meanwhile, he attended Virgina Union University, a traditionally black college, but dropped out after 2 years and joined the Marines in 1961. I doubt that he was the victim of a lot of race based humiliation at a university comprised entirely of blacks, and the fact that he attended college at all doesn’t exactly convince one of the supposed damage of his youth.

In the military, he transferred to the Navy and was a cardiopulmonary technician, not exactly indicative of humiliating prejudice either. After the military, he attended Howard University receiving bachelor’s and Master degrees. He went on to receive a second Masters degree at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1975, by which time he was already the pastor at Trinity United.

So, when exactly is it that Jeremiah Wright was subject to the harsh humiliation and fear of severe racism in this country that formed his bitterness and anger? Perhaps he just heard about it existing elsewhere and it made him real mad.

[Me]   Be nice if someone were to pose questions like this to Wright or Obama in public, though I wouldn’t be holding my breath for it. Can any reader clarify the situation in 1940s Philadelphia for us?

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