Return to Transcripts main page
Replay and Analysis of Reverend Wright's NAACP Speech
Aired April 28, 2008 - 20:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: The change was in fact, about change. It is what the NAACP's theme is, it the theme that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright picked up on.
Jim, are we going to continue, or should we sign off?
Let's go to break. When we come back, some of our own people, who you may have heard mentioned right there during the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's speech. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez, on what has been an exciting night to watch the news develop around the world and here in our own country, where, moments ago, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright gave a speech, perhaps as passionate as any that we've heard.
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright making several comments -- and especially on the issue of politics. Because we went into this speech, not knowing -- I should be truthful with you -- whether the Reverend Jeremiah Wright would in fact just be making a couple of cautious statements and then moving on.
Instead, he gave what was no doubt an impassioned speech, one that had really a lot to say. There you have some of the members of the NAACP as well, who are in the audience now.
The question is, and now that we've all heard the speech -- and we will be repeating parts of it -- pundits all over the United States will be looking at it for its political implications. What will this mean for Barack Obama? What will this mean for others? Will it help; will it hinder?
First, let's do this. Let's go back to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in his own words on the politics of our day and its mix with religion.
REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT: I'm not here for political reasons. I am not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seem as if I have announced that I'm running for the Oval Office. I'm not running for the Oval Office. I have been running for Jesus a long, long time and I'm not tired yet. I am sorry your local political analysts and your neighboring county executives think my being here is polarizing and my sermons are divisive, but I'm not here to address an analyst's opinion or a county executive's point of view. I am here to address your 2008 theme and I stand here as one representative of the African-American religious tradition, which works in concert with other faith traditions, believing, as we work together, that a change is going to come.
SANCHEZ: 'And change is going to come' is the theme that was repeated time and time again. But a change that seemed to come, at least in the words of the Reverend Wright, through religion. Most of his speech seemed to be coming through the language of his church, speaking many times about Jesus, quoting Jesus, and using the emphasis that has been used almost as if to say, this is really not about politics, with almost a wink and a nod. Because anyone listening to it will obviously draw some political implications from it, as has been the case in many of his speeches in the past.
It was a remarkable speech for what he said, as well. Here's what we're going to do for you. We are lining up now some of our own analysts and some of our own correspondents and reporters who were there at the scene, following the speech. We are trying to see if we can perhaps even get some interviews with Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
I understand that Roland Martin has been able to get himself over to either a telephone or a microphone.
Roland, are you there?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Rick Sanchez -- have cell phone, always will talk.
SANCHEZ: Roland, thanks so much for being with us.
Roland, I guess the question to ask is, what was the Reverend Wright trying to say and or do tonight?
MARTIN: Actually, first of all, he was invited by Reverend Wendell Anthony, who is the president of the Detroit NAACP. This is the largest sit-down dinner in the world. He had more than 8000 people who are here. And so, it was in the title there, (inaudible), 'A change is going to come.' That's what he talked about.
In many ways, he gave a history lesson, if you will, breaking down the differences between African-Americans and whites when it comes to music, when it comes to language, how people talk. But one thing that he said is that we as individuals, whether we're white, whether you're black, whether you're jewish, Christian or Muslim, that people have to be able to unite as one and break down the barriers that exist between folks.
He did make some references to the controversy. Like, he made several statements where he said, Now, look, if you're going to quote me on that, don't take it out of context. Be sure to quote the person accurately.
As he went through it, he talked about the differences between music, African-Americans and whites -- the whole issue of the one and three beats, the two and the four. So a very educational, if you will, speech. It wasn't a traditional sort of a speech that one might have expected.
SANCHEZ: Let me ask you, Roland, this question. And I understand wwe've got Soledad O'Brien on the line as well. She's going to be joining us. If you would, put your political analyst hat on for just a moment and allow me to ask you this question that many people, no doubt, will be thinking: Should the Reverend Wright, tonight, been more cautious, given the fact that one of his parishioners, Barack Obama, is this close to actually securing the nomination of his party?
MARTIN: It depends on what your perspective is. Around here (ph), he is a preacher. He is a pastor. And as he said to Bill Moyer, this is what I do. He does what he does. A lot of people, sure, would like for him to say absolutely nothing, so nothing can be twisted or spoken in a different way.
But at the end of the day, he's an individual. I think the Obama campaign recognized that as well. Sure, in a perfect world, you can say nothing, do nothing and go into hiding, but it's a little hard for somebody who's been a pastor for 36 years who took a church from 80 members to 8000 and say, I knw you're in demand across the country -- even if Obama wasn't running for president -- you need to sit down and be quiet.
I do believe, though, that he recognizes the reality that everything he says is going to be examined, it's going to be looked, it's going to be quoted. That's the danger of one speaking. But it's a little hard, Rick, to tell somebody to say nothing.
SANCHEZ: You make a great point. Roland martin, our own CNN contributor and analyst, who's going to be standing by. We also have Soledad O'Brien.
Let's do this: let's go to a break. When we come back, we'll get Soledad's impressions, and of course, one of the questions I would have and I think many of you would have is, did Barack Obama or members of his campaign, know that the Reverend Wright would deliver a speech like this one which would be so forceful and that would be so newsworthy? The answer to that and other questions as gather them. And we'll have a lot more analysis here on CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez, we'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez, here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
A couple housekeeping details to take care of. First of all, we know that we had a documentary, "HEALTHCARE: CRITICAL CONDITION" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and we are going to be allowing you to see that tonight, at 11:00 o'clock, in its entirety.
Also, because of the impact of this speech by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, we're going to be staying on the air and bringing you reaction from all sides -- different analysis, as well as talking to our own correspondents, who are standing by right now in Chicago (sic). Among those, someone who was mentioned several times tonight, by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, our own Soledad O'Brien.
Soledad, let me jsut begin with you and your take, as you listened to this speech. Soledad, are you there? We seem to be having some problems with Soledad O'Brien. We'll get back to her in just a little bit. She's on the phone, getting to us right away.
We do have some other sound, by the way, that we want to share with you. This is important because much has been saidabout, in the past, the diminished roll of the sound that's been played on the news media of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Here's a chance to listen, once again to exactly what Jeremiah Wright said, in his own words. Here it is.
WRIGHT: I'm not here for political reasons. I am not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seem as if I have announced that I'm running for the Oval Office. I'm not running for the Oval Office. I have been running for Jesus a long, long time and I'm not tired yet.
I am sorry your local political analysts and your neighboring county executives think my being here is polarizing and my sermons are divisive, but I'm not here to address an analyst's opinion or a county executive's point of view. I am here to address your 2008 theme and I stand here as one representative of the African-American religious tradition, which works in concert with other faith traditions, believing, as we work together, that a change is going to come.
SANCHEZ: That was just one part of what was a very long speech. We probably, in fairness, could have taken just about any 30, 40 minute long chunk of that speech and it would have been equally effective. It was obviously very well prepared, very well delivered, and to be honest, anyone who watched it would not deny that it was extremely entertaining.
Roland Martin, let's get back to you, if we possibly can. Roland, are you there?
MARTIN: Actually, I'm standing right next to Soledad. I'm going to hand the phone to her. Here she is.
SANCHEZ: All right, Soledad O'Brien, are you there?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right here. The thing, I think, where you really hit the nail on the head was, it was very humorous. Keep in mind that Reverend Wright is addressing a more than 10,000-strong (inaudible) fundraiser, full of a really friendly crowd. But he knows that there is a much bigger audience that is watching. He's fully aware that the nation is taking a seat. And so he put on a speech -- he gave a speech that was incredibly humorous, absolutely entertaining, so that not only the people who are sitting at these tables, were literally falling out of their chairs laughing at some parts of his speech, he also kept saying, I'm not going to talk to the analysts, I'm not going to deal with people who've been mocking him, et cetera, et cetera, and then take a jab.
And he -- very humorously -- I have to tell you, give there lines, one-liners, that would make you laugh out loud in spite of yourself. So in a way it was a very humorous speech. It wasn't intended to be a serious speech. It was a send-up, on one hand, of a lot of the criticism, but on the other hand, he also kept coming back to this refrain, which was, Different is not deficient. That was essentially his whole entire argument. He said, We want to consistently remember that different is not deficient -- talking about all the differences that make up this nation.
So I think it was a message that obviously resonated well with the 10,000 people who were in the audience, but even more importantly, I think it's a message that probably resonated well with the people who were listening in who maybe had never heard from Reverend Wright -- they'd only heard him distilled into a sound bite or two.
SANCHEZ: And specifically, Soledad, because it was heard in its totality. And I think that is a very important point that's been made all along by members of the church.
But let me ask you and Roland, either one of you who wants to chime in on this, because I think it's a question that will be asked and will be examined: For those who have been critical of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, will they find this speech to be delivered in an angry tone? Did he give them enough to criticize?
O'BRIEN: I'll start and then I'll hand the phone over to Roland, because we're sharing, but we're also standing elbow to elbow.
I think this was not an angry speech. This speech was punctuated with out and out laughter from the audience. And yet he'd come back to serious themes. But it was absolutely not angry. And several times he referenced some of the words where he was quoted and some sentences being his where they really were't, and he'd sort of talk about that.
But he wasn't angry. I think he was more trying to enlighten people, if that can be described as a tone. But he absolutely wasn't angry. He verged truly on hilarious at certain parts, and I think he consistently came back to the NAACP's message, which was, 'A change is just going to come.'
At one point he does, Rick, the thing where he's singing and he's talking about people of European descent -- the way they clap to music. It's on the one and the three depending on where they are. People who are African descent, two and four. He does this whole little send-up of, black people in church clapping, and how, if you turn to the white person, the white friend is clapping out of tone. He says, they're not deficient, they are just different, they are wired differently.
It was a really interesting speech. But no, not angry at all. So, I think for people who are critical, who haven't seen him in toto, who haven't really heard from him fully himself, they are going to say, Wow, that guy is a lot different than he's been described in the media thus far.
SANCHEZ: Almost a softening up, if you will. You know, it's interesting, listening to the speech, it did seem at times he was poking fun, both at himself and at his audience, which is interesting. I'll be interested to hear what Roland Martin has to say, from a political analyst's perspective as well, whether there will be those out there who will look at this speech and say, Oh, you see, I told you we had a problem here. And it may be a problem for Barack Obama.
Of course, the analysis will continue. Roland, hold your thought for just a minute. I'm going to come back in just a minute. We're going to go to a break.
When we come back, we'll talk to Roland and also let you know what we're going to be doing here at CNN to continue this coverage, after this really momentous speech tonight, and continue to get more reaction from both our analysts, our correspondents, and others who we've been taliking to. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: It has been a passionate statement that was delivered tonight by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Let me tell you about some programming decisions that we've made here at CNN. Here's what we're going to do. For the better part of the next hour, where you were expecting to see Larry King's interview with Pamela Anderson, we are going to, once again, play both the introduction and the speech that was delivered by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We will stop, from time to time, to bring in analysts. We'll also have some breaks in between.
What you're going to be hearing now is first, an introduction perhaps like few we've ever heard. This is Dr. Wendell Anthony, introducing the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, in an extremely passionate way, as well. We pick it up from the beginning. W'll take you along so you can listen to these speeches both in their totality. Here we go.
WENDELL ANTHONY, PRESIDENT, DETROIT NAACP: I want you to know that we don't just give out awards to give out awards. We give out awards because the people we honor have done honor by honoring us by their works. Jeremiah, I want you to know that, according to the tradition of our people, you never invite a guest into your home and not give them something to rember you by. So, because this moment that God has used you, you have impacted the world. Not just Chicago. Not just Detroit. But, you have impacted the world. And as he has the whole world in his hands, he also has used you as a part of his master plan.
So, tonight, we just want to give Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright a token of the love of the people of the city of Detroit. We call it "The People's Award," presented to Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., for speaking truth to power.
Reverend Wendell Anthony, President, and Hester Wheeler, Executive Director.
ANTHONY: I'd like, if you would for a moment. Every member of the clergy who is in this room, if you would stand. No matter what your faith tradition is, if you are a member of the clergy, if you're a pastor, if you're an imam, if you're a rabbi, you're an assistant or associate, please stand. I want all members of the clergy to stand with me.
For this is not my introduction. This is our introduction. I just want to let my voice be used to introduce one of our own. There is an old African proverb which says that until the lion tells his own story, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
Well, tonight this lion of Judah is going to tell his own story! Judah, in case you don't know, means "to praise." And so tonight, it is not generally my custom to talk about the educational background of one or the institutional certification of the tradition by which he or she has arrived at this hour.
Yet the times dictate that I share with you some extraordinary credentials of our speaker, lest they be taken out of context. I want you to understand, I want you to understand that tonight we honor ourselves by honoring and daring to stand with our brothers.
Tonight, I want you to know that, firstly, Jeremiah Wright was educated at Virginia Union Theological Seminary. After three and a half years, he volunteered to go into the United States Marine Corps, and he transferred from there into the United States Navy where he served as a cardiopulmonary technician. No, he didn't get five deferments. No, he didn't go absent without leave. No, he did not do what others have done.
He served our nation. He served our nation for six years. He attended Howard University, completing his undergraduate work and receiving his first master's degree. His first master's degree. His second master's degree was from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He was a doctorate and has earned a doctorate from the United Theological Seminary under the renowned Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor. He is also received eight honorary degrees.
Jeremiah Wright is the current pastor, soon to be on leave without absence in retirement at the end of May, of the Trinity United Church of Christ, which grew from 87 members in 1972 to nearly 8,000 in 2008. This Jeremiah Wright that many know and some have been made to not to want to know is a speaker of five languages. He is a linguist. He is an Egyptologist. He is a writer. He is an author. He is an entrepreneur. He is a social advocate. He is a husband, a father, a grandfather, a son, a friend, a creator, an innovator, and a sustainer of the word of God to go ye out into the world and preach the gospel of Christ. And teach the gospel of Christ.
Beloved, you better hear this. Every now and then God gives to us a moment of khyros (ph) in which God intervenes into the business of the world and he inspires the human condition and he ignites a fire in the passion of his people. You ought to thank god that you are alive to be a part of this historical moment. Don't you know that this is not by our doing but it is by the doings of a force much higher and greater than we ourselves?
No, this ain't about Barack Obama. This ain't about Hillary Rodham Clinton. This ain't about John McCain. It's bigger he than all three of them. This is about the African American church. This is about our church. This is about our people. This is about our right to speak truth to power.
This is about God's privilege and, in particular, his prophet to speak the unedited, unmarginalized, unsanitized, uncategorized word of God to the powers that be. It is not a white thing, nor is it a black thing. It's the right thing that we are doing today. This occasion tonight is what Amos called the reality to let justice roll down like mighty waters.
It's what Micah declared when he said, what does the Lord require of thee but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God? No! Must Jeremiah bear the cross alone and the all the world go free? There is a cross for Jeremiah, and there's one for you and me also. That's why we stand with him.
It's about a man who used his skills to safely put to sleep and then to wake back up a president of the nation named Lyndon Baines Johnson as he served the nation. When there are those right now who want the people -- to put the people back to sleep by maligning him and saying that he is now dissing the nation.
Oh, no, Jeremiah, we know the game that has been played. We've been here before. Your church, Trinity, with over 70 ministries, has helped too many people, black and white. Your church, Trinity, has saved too many souls, given out too many scholarships, fed too many people, laid to rest so many blessed of the father, married too many folks, blessed too many babies of our Lord, done too much in Africa, loved too much in the Caribbean. That is why, like the Jeremiah of old, you too have said, oh, that my head were waters and my eyes were a fountain of tears that I may weep both day and night for the strength of the daughters of my people. I want to cry all day and long and even through the fight, but I don't have enough tears, the measures of my tears is too small.
So for those of you who are scared, for those of you who are weak, how can you keep up with the horses if you can't run with the footmen? And so, Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah, even though you may be troubled on every side, you are not distressed. Sometimes perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted, but you are not forsaken. Cast down but never destroyed. Just remember they didn't like King in 1967. They didn't like Malcolm in 1968. They didn't like Fanny Lou (ph) in '72. They didn't like Nelson in '88. They didn't like Jesus no matter the date. The world still hates him out of context.
They try to eliminate him on a Friday, but he got back up on a Sunday. We want to tell Jeremiah Wright, Jeremiah, keep on preaching. Keep on teaching. Keep on uplifting. Keep on inspiring. Keep on loving. It's not about man's acceptance. It's about God's approval. Detroit, let's welcome our brother, the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright!
SANCHEZ: As we watch this, we're going to take it right up to the moment where the Reverend Jeremiah Wright starts to speak.
If you didn't see it before, that introduction, delivered be Dr. Wendell Anthony, was as passionate an introduction as we've seen. And he spoke to some very important points in the African-American community that have been seemingly hindering people, almost a thorn in the side of those who are part of the African-American church, saying, Don't judge us by what has been seen in those snippets by Dr. Jeremiah Wright. It almost seemed, many would say, as a coming out sort of speech by both Wendell Anthony and Jeremiah Wright tonight, as if to say, This is who we really are, don't diminish us, understand us.
Of course, the question is, in so doing, what will be the political implications of these forthright speeches delivered by these courageous men tonight? And for that, we will have analysts, we will have considerable coverage. And we will be joined by Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin on the other side.
Also, as soon as we come back from the break, the beginning of the speech by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I'm Rick Sanchez in the CNN NEWSROOM. We will be right back.
WRIGHT: The doors of the church are open.
To the Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony, Hester Wheeler (ph), Don L. White (ph), Robert Shoomake (ph), Robin Beatty (ph), Evelyn Case (ph), to all of the board members, to the biggest, the baddest and best chapter of the NAACP in the United States, the Detroit chapter, to members of our church who have driven over from Chicago to be with us, to my wife Raima, who is with us and to my daughter Gerri (ph), one of four daughters who is with us, I thank you for this high, high honor to be with us at the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 53rd Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner. I need to say before we begin, Hiram Jackson, Roland Martin and Soledad O'Brien, please see Jerry (ph) as we are rushing to the plane. We have a plane to catch on our way to the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in Washington, DC, legislative days being held starting at 8:00 in the morning.
The NAACP has an incomparable record. It has the longest list of achievements in the history of this country as being the undisputed champion in the fight against discrimination, racial prejudice, and unjust public policies, which have caused people made in the image of God to be treated as less than human or treated as second-class citizens.
In its early days, the NAACP and the black church in the United States of America were seemingly joined at the hip in the fight against injustice and the fight for equality on behalf of all people of color.
Many local chapters of the NAACP were started in black churches. Hundreds of black churches. The NAACP's fight for justice and freedom, however, is not limited to the concerns of the black church, historically or contemporaneously. And when the truth is told, as Paula Giddings does so powerfully in her book "When and Where I Enter," there were times when the NAACP had to drag some timid black preachers along kicking and screaming as in the Montgomery bus boycott designed by the NAACP, not the SCLC.
Throughout its 99-year history, the NAACP has been built by people of all races, all nationalities, and all faiths on one primary premise, which is that all men and women are created equal. The nation's oldest civil rights organization has changed America's history. Despite violence, intimidation, and hostile government policies, the NAACP and its grassroots membership have persevered.
Now, somebody please tell the Oakland county executive that that sentence starting with the words "despite violence, intimidation, and hostile government policies" is a direct quote from the NAACP's profile in courage. It didn't come from Jeremiah Wright.
Otherwise, he will attribute the quote to me and continue to say that I and am one of the most divisive people he has ever of heard speak. When he has never heard me speak. And just to help him out, 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 descriptions. Somebody say "Amen." If you can't say "Amen," you're too mad, just say "Ouch."
The NAACP is nonpartisan. The NAACP is not beholden to, controlled by, or partial to any one faith tradition. The NAACP says proudly that it is a compound of people of all races, all nationalities and all faiths. And it is for that reason that I am especially grateful to Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony and the Detroit branch of the NAACP for honoring me by having me address their 2008 theme "A Change is Going to Come." One of your cities' political analysts says in print that first just my appearance here in Detroit will be polarizing. Well, I'm not here for political reasons. I am not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media have made it seem as if I had announced that I'm running to for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office. I've been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet.
I am sorry your local political analysts and your neighboring county executives think my being here is polarizing and my sermons are divisive, but I'm not here to address an analyst's opinion or a county executive's point of view. I am here to address your 2008 theme, and I stand here as one representative of the African American religious tradition which works in concert with other faith traditions, believing as we work together that a change is going to come.
On that point, about other faith traditions, in addition to Pastor Anthony, Pastor Nicholas Hood (ph), Pastor Charles Adams (ph), Pastor William Revelly (ph), Pastor James Perkins (ph), Pastor Wilma Rudolph (ph), Pastor Holly (ph) who is suffering from a stroke, Father Michael Flager (ph), Father Jeremy Tobin (ph), Pastor Dee Dee Coleman (ph), Dr. Georgia Hill (ph) and Reverend Lonnie Peak (ph), I would also like to thank Sister Melanie Marah (ph), the former executive director of the Chicago chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the current executive director of the Washington, DC, chapter of the American Jewish committee. I would like to thank my good friend and Jewish author Tim Wise for his support, and I would like to offer a special shookran (ph) to Imam Muhammad Ali Ilakhi (ph) of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights for his courage, his conviction and his support.
The support of the Jewish community, the Muslim community, and the Christian community, Protestant and Catholic, is in concert with the credo of the NAACP and a definite sign that a change is definitely going to come. An additional special thank you is offered to Soledad O'Brien for CNN's outstanding "Black in America" and my long term friend Roland Martin.
I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committing to changing how we see others who are different.
In the past, we were taught to see others who are different as somehow being deficient. Christians saw Jews as being deficient. Catholics saw Protestants as being deficient. Presbyterians saw Pentecostals as being deficient.
Folks who like to holler in worship saw folk who like to be quiet as deficient. And vice versa.
Whites saw black as being deficient. It was none other than Rudyard Kipling who saw the "White Man's Burden" as a mandate to lift brown, black, yellow people up to the level of white people as if whites were the norm and black, brown and yellow people were abnormal subspecies on a lower level or deficient.
Europeans saw Africans as deficient. Lovers of George Friedrich Handel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart saw lovers of B.B. King and Frankie Beverly and Maze as deficient. Lovers of Marian Anderson saw lovers of Lady Day and Anita Baker as deficient. Lovers of European cantatas -- Comfort ye in the glory, the glory of the Lord (ph) -- Lovers of European cantatas saw lovers of common meter -- I love the Lord, He heard my cry -- they saw them as deficient.
In the past --
SANCHEZ: And as the crowd gets into it, now, let's do this: Let's pause just momentarily. We're going to let you go back to the speech, let you hear the reast of it. In fact, you're going to be hearing this speech by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in its entirety.
You get the sense, as you listen to it, that these may indeed be words that he's been wanting to express for some time and he certainly is doing it now.
As the speech goes on, by the way, for those of you who haven't heard the rest of it, it does deliver a little bit more of a bite to it -- never, as my colleague, Soledad O'Brien, said moments ago, seeming angry, but with a definite message. This is the Reverend Wright, perhaps in a way that we haven't seen him before, and in a way -- in many ways very different from the Reverend Wright that we'd seen in those grainy YouTube clips that we'd all seen many times. And for that reason, very different.
I'm joined now by both Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin. They are there, picking up our coverage oncve again.
Soledad, the message from this now controversial reverend is what?
O'BRIEN: I think if you could give a subtitle to the speech -- he kept referring to 'A change is going to come,' which was the title of the event here tonight that the NAACP was hosting. But, I think a subtitle would be, This is who I am, folks. Stop watching YouTube and learn from me who I really am. Because I thought it was Reverend Wright saying, Listen, stop listening to me in sound bites, because you're losing context. Let me tell you who I am.
And so he delivered a message that was woven in with the theme of the NAACP and the 10,000-plus people who were here, but actually delivered to a much wider audience, which is everybody watching TV.
MARTIN: Hey, Rick, I think Soledad hits on the point, because, as somebody who actually listened to the full sermons that have been deemed controversial -- the whole "G.D. America" sermon and also the 9/11 sermon -- when you do hear the 35-40 minute sermon, you say, Wait a minute, here's somebody who goes from being soft to being very outspoken, somebody who goes from a sociological view to a theological view. That's what happens, I think, when you listen to someone in their entirety.
Look, you might have some people out there, Rick, who are still going to say, I don't like the guy. You are going to have some people who still will say, I think he's still off the deep end, but it's been interesting how I've gotten e-mails literally, since we've been playing, where certain people have said, Wait a minute, I've got a whole different view of who Reverend Wright is because I'm hearing him longer than 30 seconds or 45 seconds. I'm hearing a different view of him that frankly we have not -- let's just be honest -- haven't shown.
Many people -- I'll be honest -- a lot of folks out there, lot of people are commentating (sic) on television, who've been talking about this story, most of them had not even heard the entire sermon. They have been making judgments based upon a snippet, versus saying, Let me look at him in terms of the whole sermon.
SANCHEZ: You're saying they may still criticize, but at least now they have heard him out.
I have to ask you about this introduction delivered by Dr. Wendell Anthony. He said, in a very stirring way, this ain't about Barack Obama; this is about the African-American church. Almost as if to say, look, we need to be heard on this right now. He also said, with some biting commentary, when he described the Reverend Wright, that he volunteered to go to the Marines and that he didn't get five deferments and that he didn't go absent without leave.
MARTIN: Rick, I trhink that is a critical point to make, because again, if you are to examine the whole person, you have to look at the whole person. When you hear people who say, Oh, he's un-American, it's like, well, wait a minute, he's a former Marine, he's a former member of the Navy. And so a lot of people said, I didn't even know that.
O'BRIEN: I would imagine the people watching on television because they were interested, would say I didn't know the guy had two masters degrees and a PhD, I didn't realize he spoke five language languages.
MARTIN: Operated on President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
O'BRIEN: I think that was an effort to say, Let us tell you who we, the NAACP, think he is, who we, the African-American church see this man as. So when he said this is not about Barack Obama, this is about the black church tradition -- I mean, one of the things that I thought was really interesting in his speech was where he -- I mean, it was very funny. It was actually downright hilarious, the point, he laughed about how some -- he said, you know, different is not -- what was it, the little phrase he kept saying --
MARTIN: He kept saying --
O'BRIEN: Different is not --
MARTIN: Divisive; it is simply different.
O'BRIEN: It is simply different. So one of the things that he kept going back to that --
SANCHEZ: Descriptive was the word he used.
O'BRIEN: Some people are not from the African-American religious tradition, meaning we shout, we scream, we roll around the aisle. That's who we -- the African-American tradition -- now, I'm from a Catholic church, so I'm much more on that quiet, you know, "Yes, my child. Let us all pray."
MARTIN: But I was born and raised Catholic, and I was in a black Catholic church, where we did shout.
O'BRIEN: His point was -- it was well made and very funny. And the funny thing was, he would shift between accents and between the quiet voice, sort of pretending that he was a calm priest, and then going to the holy roller voice. I mean, it was really very funny, and I think, all along, mocking his critics.
No, there was no angry Reverend Wright. And I will agree with Roland on the sound bite thing, as you say, the "G.D. America" speech, the truth is that the next line in that is, "G.D. America, because she thinks she's god."
O'BRIEN: You say, that's a little bit different than maybe when you only heard the first part of it. So I think that it was his opportunity, again, to say, This is who I say I am. This is who I say I am.
I also thought it was interesting for people who've been wondering, How is his relationship with Barack Obama, because it's been kind of a strain, certainly. And I thought it was very interesting that he said, at the end, I could mention the candidate who I support, yes, we can. Clearly, he's a fan. He's supporting his candidacy. That made me think they're not as divided as we would get the impression they are.
SANCHEZ: I should probably mention, as well -- and I think both of you are probably too humble to mention it yourself, but both of you were recognized during the speech. I say this not to embarrass you, but it was an interesting point that he really knew what was going on.
O'BRIEN: (Inaudible) interview. That was only because --
O'BRIEN: -- we called the man 24 hours a day. So that was kind of a nod. No embarrassment at all taken. That was a "I know you've been calling me, Soledad and Roland."
MARTIN: And also, Rick, from my vantage point, we actually had an interview that was set up and later cancelled on my radio show, WBON in Chicago. I criticized Reverend Wright for not holding up to that bargain.
O'BRIEN: You were named a good friend.
MARTIN: I was named a good friend. So that was kind of like, yes, I know you have been beating me upside my head, so we'll go ahead and give you a shout out as well.
But Rick, the most important thing --
SANCHEZ: Down to 30 seconds here, Roland. We have to get a break.
MARTIN: Sure, very simple. For journalists -- as journalists, what we have to do is, we have to challenge ourselves how do we look at people in their totality. I think that's really the lesson that he -- because he spoke clearly, in terms of the media and what we have to do. That's the lesson that we have to always take -- don't make the assumption that a person is based upon something that we heard, let's look at who they are.
O'BRIEN: And also, I think if there's any bigger picture, it's people cannot be distilled to a sound bite -- anybody. I'm not just talking about the Reverend Wright, I'm talking about anybody, is not a sound bite -- anybody. And so maybe he's been an excellent example of people who have been so distilled down to a sound bite, that frankly you lose the entirety of the message.
And I would encourage everybody to watch the rest of the show and watch the rest of the speech and decide for yourself.
SANCHEZ: They will. Great introspective points made by both of you. And that is precisely what we are going to do.
Guys, thanks so much for the commentary.
Let's do this. We'll go to a break. When we come back, the rest of Reverend Wright's speech. And by the way, Roland and Soledad are both going to be with us throughout the night. We've expanded our coverage. We're staying on this theme. I'm Rick Sanchez in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.
WRIGHT: We established arbitrary norms and then determined that anybody not like us was abnormal. But a change is coming because we no longer see others who are different as being deficient. We just see them as different. Over the past 50 years, thanks to the scholarship of dozens of expert in many different disciplines, we have come to see just how skewed prejudice and dangerous our miseducation has been.
Miseducation. Miseducation incidentally is not a Jeremiah Wright term. It's a word coined by Dr. Carter G. Woodson over 80 years ago. Sounds like he talked a hate speech, doesn't it? Now, analyze that. Two brilliant scholars and two beautiful sisters, both of whom hail from Detroit in the fields of education and linguistics, Dr. Janice Hale right here at Wayne State University, founder of the Institute for the study of the African-American child. and Dr. Geneva Smitherman formerly of Wayne State University now at Michigan State University in Lansing. Hail in education and Smitherman in linguistics. Both demonstrated 40 years ago that different does not mean deficient. Somebody is going to miss that.
Turn to your neighbor and say different does not mean deficient. It simply means different. In fact, Dr. Janice Hale was the first writer whom I read who used that phrase. Different does not mean deficient. Different is not synonymous with deficient. It was in Dr. Hale's first book, "Black Children their Roots, Culture and Learning Style." Is Dr. Hale here tonight? We owe her a debt of gratitude. Dr. Hale showed us, that in comparing African-American children and European-American children in the field of education, we were comparing apples and rocks. And in so doing, we kept coming up with meaningless labels like EMH, educable mentally handicapped, TMH, trainable mentally handicapped, ADD, attention deficit disorder.
And we were coming up with more meaningless solutions like reading, writing and Ritalin. Dr. Hale's research led her to stop comparing African-American children with European-American children and she started comparing the pedagogical methodologies of African- American children to African children and European-American children to European children. And bingo, she discovered that the two different worlds have two different ways of learning. European and European-American children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the United States of America. Back in the early '70s, when Dr. Hale did her research was based on left brained cognitive object oriented learning style. Let me help you with fifty cent words.
Left brain is logical and analytical. Object oriented means the student learns from an object. From the solitude of the cradle with objects being hung over his or her head to help them determine colors and shape to the solitude in a carol in a PhD program stuffed off somewhere in a corner in absolute quietness to absorb from the object. From a block to a book, an object. That is one way of learning, but it is only one way of learning.
African and African-American children have a different way of learning. They are right brained, subject oriented in their learning style. Right brain that means creative and intuitive. Subject oriented means they learn from a subject, not an object. They learn from a person. Some of you are old enough, I see your hair color, to remember when the NACP won that tremendous desegregation case back in 1954 and when the schools were desegregated. They were never integrated. When they were desegregated in Philadelphia, several of the white teachers in my school freaked out. Why? Because black kids wouldn't stay in their place. Over there behind the desk, black kids climbed up all on them.
Because they learn from a subject, not from an object. Tell me a story. They have a different way of learning. Those same children who have difficulty reading from an object and who are labeled EMH, DMH and ADD. Those children can say every word from every song on every hip hop radio station -- SANCHEZ: Let's go ahead and dip into this, if we can. We guarantee you that you're going to be able to watch the rest of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's speech. We guarantee you as well that, at 10:00, we are planning full coverage of the speech and reaction from different perspectives on this. Obviously, it is entertaining. It is something that is difficult to not watch.
It's uniquein the sense that most of what we've seen of this man has been in grainy YouTube videos. So when we come back, we'll let you listen to the rest of the speech by Jeremiah Wright. We'll also have commentary from Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin. I'm Rick Sanchez in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
WRIGHT: (In progress) -- here tonight cannot understand. Why? Because they come from a right-brained creative aural/oral culture like the greos (ph) in Africa who can go for two or three days as oral repositories of a people's history and like the oral tradition which passed down the first five book in our Jewish bible, our Christian Bible, our Hebrew bible long before there was a written Hebrew script or alphabet. And repeat incredulously long passages like Psalm 119 using mnemonic devices using eight line stanzas. Each stanza starting with a different letter of the alphabet. That is a different way of learning. It's not deficient, it is just different. Somebody say different. I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing how we see other people who are different.
What that Dr. Janice Hale did in the field of education. Dr. Geneva Smitherman did in the field of linguistics. Almost 25 years ago now, Dr. Smitherman's book published by Wayne State University talking and testifying the language of black America taught us the same thing. Different does not mean deficient. Linguists have known since the mid 20th century that number one, nobody in Detroit, with the exception of citizens born and raised in the United Kingdom, nobody in Detroit speaks English. We all speak different varieties of American. If you don't believe me, go to the United Kingdom. As soon as you open your mouth in the United Kingdom, they'll say oh you're from America. Because they hear you speak in American. Linguists knew that nobody in here speaks English, but only black children 50 years ago were singled out as speaking bad English.
In 1961, it's been all over the internet now, John Kennedy could stand at the inauguration in January and say, "ask not what your country can do for you, it's rather what you can do for your country." How do you spell is? Nobody ever said to John Kennedy that's not English "is". Only to a black child would they say you speak bad English. Kennedy got killed. Johnson stepped up to the podium and love feel, we just left love feel. And Johnson, said my fellow Americans. How do you spell fellow? How do you spell American? Nobody says to Johnson you speak bad English.
Ed Kennedy, today, those of you in the Congress, you know Kilpatrick. You know, Ed Kennedy today cannot pronounce cluster consonants. Very few people from Boston can. They pronounce park like it's p-o-c-k. Where did you "pock" the car? They pronounce f-o- r-t like it's f-o-u-g-h-t. We fought a good battle. And nobody says to a Kennedy you speak bad English. Only to a black child was that said. Linguists knew that 50 years ago and they also knew number two that every language, including the language of Jesus, Aramaic, was made up of five subsets, pragmatic, grammar, syntax, semantics and phonics and that African speakers of English and African speakers of French and African speakers of Portuguese and African speakers of Spanish in the new world had created languages, not dialect all with five different subsets.
Languages, not Creole or Patois, languages. And Dr. Smitherman compiled the findings of an interdisciplinary research along with her own brilliant findings to show us that the language of black Americans was different, not deficient. She combined the findings of early childhood education, linguistics, socio-linguistics and the pedagogy of the oppressed to demonstrate most powerfully that different does not mean deficient. It simply means what? Different. I believe a change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing the way we see others who are different.
What Dr. Janice Hale did in the field of education and what Dr. Geneva Smitherman did in the field of linguistics, Dr. Eldon (ph) in the field of ethnomusicology, the field of music. He showed us 40 years ago what Whitney Phips (ph) is teaching you for the first time 40 years later. African music is different from European piano music. It is not deficient, it is different. In most school systems today, the way most of us over 40 years of age were taught is still being taught. We were taught a European paradigm as if Europe had the only music that there was in the world. As a matter of fact, if you just say the term, classical music.
Today, most here, use of that term will automatically refer to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and already cited Mozart and Handel. European musicians. From grammar school to graduate school, we are taught in four, four time. That the dominant beat is on one and three. Our band directors, our choir directors, our orchestra director start us off how? And One, two, three, four. One, two, three. Now, that's the European dominant beat. For African and African-Americans, it is not one and three, it is two and four. I don't have to teach you. Listen to black people clap to this song. Glory, glory hallelujah, you are clapping on beats two and four.
SANCHEZ: On that musical note, the message is obviously that he's delivering -- difference does not necessarily mean deficient. That's what he keeps referring to. He talked about language, he talked about culture. There, he closes with a point about music.
Of course, one of the questions is, how will this be received and what political implications will it have? We're tracing that part of the story down. At 10:00, we'll have several analysts here from dfferent stripes, different parts of the equation to talk about this. In the meantime, we'll take a break. When we come back, the culmination of the speech by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
WRIGHT: If you got some white friends, they'll be clapping like this. You say they can't clap. Yes, they can. They clap in a different way. It's the same fact holds true with six eight time. Europeans stress one, two, three, four, five, six. One, two, three, four, five, six. Dum dum, dum, dum, dum. The stress is on one and four. Not for black people. When you got six eight time, blacks stress two three and five six.
Listen to this -- blessed assurance, Jesus is mine two, three for, five, six - oh, why are you clapping on the wrong beat? Africans have a different meter and Africans have a different tonality. European music is diatonic, seven tones. Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. That's Italian. Europe. In west Africa and south Africa, it is not diatonic, seven tones, it is pentatonic with five tones. Whitney Pips (ph) points out that if you want to know black music, just look at the black keys on the piano. Do, re, fa, so, la. Just those five tunes. Those are the only five notes you'll hear and somebody knows the trouble I've seen . It only uses five notes the same with the river it also uses five notes. That's all. I believe a change is coming. It's not deficient, it's just different.
Many of us are committed to changing how we see others who are different. When you look at and listen to - I'm in Michigan. OK. Here in Michigan, look at and listen to the University of Michigan and Michigan State University bands at halftime. Their bands hit the field with excellent European precision. Da, da, da, da, da, ta, ra, ra.
Now go to a Florida A&M and Grambling Band. It's different. And you can't put that in no book. I believe change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing how we see others who are different. One is not superior to the other. One is not normal with the other being abnormal. One is not deficient because it doesn't follow the same methodology of the other. It is just different. Different does not mean deficient. Tell your neighbor one more time.
Now, what is true in the field of education, linguistics, ethnomusicology, marching bands, psychology and culture is also true in the field of homiletics, hermeneutics, biblical studies, black sacred music and black worship. We just do it different and some of our haters can't get their heads around that. I come from a religious tradition that does not divorce the world we live in from the world we are heading to. I come from a religious tradition that does not separate the kingdom of heaven that we pray for from the devious kingdoms of humans that keep people in bondage on earth.
I come from a religious tradition that did not hold slaves, but preached against slavery and worked to end slavery. I come from a religious tradition that fought against lynching (ph) like the NAACP, fought against discrimination like the NAACP and fought against skin privilege, fought against apartheid, fought again unfair labor practices, fought against segregation, fought against Plessy versus Ferguson.
I come from a religious tradition that fought for desegregation like NAACP. Fought for equality, fought for human dignity, fought for civil rights, fought for equal protection into the law and fought for the right of every citizen to have quality education regardless of the color of their skin.