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Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr. (born September 22, 1941) is Pastor Emeritus and the former Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), a megachurch in Chicagomarker with around 8,500 members. In early 2008, Wright retired after 36 years as the Senior Pastor of his congregation and no longer has daily responsibilities at the church. Following retirement, Wright's beliefs and manner of preaching were scrutinized when segments from his sermons were publicized in connection with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Obama addressed the issues raised by the Wright controversy in his speech entitled "A More Perfect Union". To explain more fully his actual positions on these issues, Wright gave a speech before the NAACP on April 27, 2008, in which he stressed that he was not "divisive", but "descriptive", and that the black church experience, like black culture, was "different" but not "deficient". Wright voted for Obama in the 2008 election, despite the controversy.

His wife is Ramah Reed Wright, and he has four daughters, Janet Marie Moore, Jeri Lynne Wright, Nikol D. Reed and Jamila Nandi Wright, and one son, Nathan D. Reed.

Early years

Wright was born and raised in a racially mixed section of Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker called Germantownmarker. His parents are Jeremiah Wright, Sr. (1909-2001), a Baptist minister who pastored Grace Baptist Church in Germantown, Philadelphia, from 1938 to 1980, and Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright, a school teacher who was the first black person to teach an academic subject at Roosevelt Junior High. She went on to be the first black person to teach at Germantown Highmarker and Girls Highmarker, where she became the school's first black vice principal.

Wright graduated from the Central High Schoolmarker of Philadelphia in 1959, among the best schools in the area at the time. At the time, the school was around 90 percent white. The 211th class yearbook described Wright as a respected member of the class. "Always ready with a kind word, Jerry is one of the most congenial members of the 211,” the yearbook said. “His record in Central is a model for lower class [younger] members to emulate."

Education and military service

From 1959 to 1961, Wright attended Virginia Union University, in Richmondmarker. In 1961 Wright left college and joined the United States Marine Corps and became part of the 2nd Marine Division attaining the rank of private first class. In 1963, after two years of service, Wright joined the United States Navy and entered the Corpsman School at the Great Lakes Naval Training Centermarker. Wright was then trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Centermarker in Bethesda, Marylandmarker. Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with care of President Lyndon B. Johnson (see photo of Wright caring for Johnson after his 1966 surgery). Before leaving the position in 1967, the White House Physician, Vice Admiral Burkley, personally wrote Wright a letter of thanks on behalf of the United States President.

In 1967 Wright enrolled at Howard Universitymarker in Washington, D.C.marker, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1968 and a master’s degree in English in 1969. He also earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Wright holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (1990) from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohiomarker, where he studied under Samuel DeWitt Proctor, a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Career as minister

became pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago on March 1, 1972; it had some 250 members on its rolls, but only about 90 or so were actually attending worship by that time. By March 2008 Trinity United Church of Christ had become the largest church in the mostly white United Church of Christ denomination. The President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, John H. Thomas, has stated: “It is critical that all of us express our gratitude and support to this remarkable congregation, to Jeremiah A. Wright for his leadership over 36 years.” Thomas, who is a member of the Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Clevelandmarker, has also preached and worshipped at Trinity United Church of Christ (most recently on March 2, 2008).Trinity and Wright were profiled by correspondent Roger Wilkins in Sherry Jones's documentary "Keeping the Faith" broadcast as the June 16, 1987 episode of the PBS series Frontline with Judy Woodruff. , OCLC 21357978, OCLC 18126496, OCLC 42508237

In 1995, Wright was asked to deliver a prayer during an afternoon session of speeches at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.

Wright, who began the "Ministers in Training" ("M.I.T.") program at Trinity United Church of Christ, has been a national leader in promoting theological education and the preparation of seminarians for the African-American church. The church's mission statement is based upon systematized Black liberation theology that started with the works of James Hal Cone.

Wright has been a professor at Chicago Theological Seminarymarker, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and other educational institutions. Wright has served on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University, Chicago Theological Seminarymarker and City Colleges of Chicago. He has also served on the Board Directors of Evangelical Health Systems, the Black Theology Project, the Center for New Horizons and the Malcolm X School of Nursing, and on boards and committees of other religious and civic organizations.

Political controversy

The Jeremiah Wright controversy gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News, after reviewing dozens of Wright's sermons, excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny. Wright is the former pastor of Barack Obama. Obama denounced the statements in question, but after critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Wright he gave a speech titled "A More Perfect Union", in which he sought to place Dr. Wright's comments in a historical and sociological context. In the speech, Obama again denounced Wright's remarks, but did not disown him as a person. The controversy began to fade, but was renewed in late April when Wright made a series of media appearances, including an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, a speech at the NAACP and a speech at the National Press Club. After the last of these, Obama spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was "outraged" and "saddened" by his behavior, and in May he resigned his membership in the church.

On June 9, 2009, in an interview with the Daily Press of Newport News, Wright indicated that he hadn't had contact with Obama up to that point because "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office." Wright also suggested that Obama did not send a delegation to the Durban Review Conference in Genevamarker, a conference "that had devolved into an anti-Jewish free-for-all" according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, because of Jewish pressure saying: "[T]he Jewish vote, the A-I-P-A-C vote, that’s controlling him, that would not let him send representation to the Darfur Review Conference, that’s talking this craziness on this trip, cause they’re Zionists, they would not let him talk to someone who calls a spade what it is." Writing for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates characterized Wright's remarks as "crude conspiratorial antisemitism." On June 11, 2009, Wright amended his remarks during an interview with Mark Thompson on his radio program, Make it Plain. “Let me say like Hillary, I misspoke. Let me just say: Zionists... I’m not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith, I’m talking about Zionists."

Wright wrote on his Facebook page apologizing for his remarks on June 12. He wrote, "I mis-spoke and I sincerely meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama administration... I have great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of our Judeo-Christian tradition." "In other words," another Atlantic writer, Jeffrey Goldberg, summarized, "[H]e regrets speaking plainly instead of deploying a euphemism." The Anti Defamation League released a statement condemning Wright's remarks as "inflammatory and false. The notions of Jewish control of the White Housemarker in Reverend Wright's statement express classic anti-Semitism in its most vile form."


Wright has received a Rockefeller Fellowship and seven honorary doctorate degrees, including from Colgate Universitymarker, Lincoln University, PAmarker,Valparaiso University, United Theological Seminary and Chicago Theological Seminarymarker. Wright was named one of Ebony magazine's top 15 preachers. He was also awarded the first Carver Medal by Simpson Collegemarker in January 2008, to recognize Wright as "an outstanding individual whose life exemplifies the commitment and vision of the service of George Washington Carver". On May 1, 2008, Northwestern Universitymarker withdrew its invitation for him to receive an honorary doctorate in light of the controversy over his recent remarks.


  • Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., "Music as Cultural Expression in Black Church Theology and Worship," Journal of Black Sacred Music 3, 1 (1) (Spring 1989).
  • Wright, Jeremiah A. Jr. and Jini Kilgore Ross, What Makes You So Strong?: Sermons of Joy and Strength from Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Judson Press, November 1993, ISBN 978-0817011987
  • Jawanza Kunjufu and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., Adam! Where Are You?: Why Most Black Men Don't Go to Church, African American Images, June 1997, ISBN 978-0913543436 (also African American Images, 1994, ISBN B000T6LXPQ)
  • Wright, Jeremiah A. Jr. and Colleen Birchett, Africans Who Shaped Our Faith (Student Guide), Urban Ministries, Inc., May 1995, ISBN 978-0940955295
  • Wright, Jeremiah A. Jr. and Jini Kilgore Ross, Good News!: Sermons of Hope for Today's Families, Judson Press, December 1995, ISBN 978-0817012366
  • William J. Key, Robert Johnson Smith, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. and Robert Johnson-Smith, From One Brother to Another: Voices of African American Men, Judson Press, October 1996, ISBN 978-0817012502
  • Frank Madison Reid, III, Jeremiah Wright Jr. and Colleen Birchett, When Black Men Stand Up for God: Reflections on the Million Man March, African American Images, December 1997, ISBN 978-0913543481
  • Wright, Jeremiah A. Jr., What Can Happen When We Pray: A Daily Devotional, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, June 2002, ISBN 978-0806634067
  • Wright, Jeremiah A. Jr., From One Brother To Another, Volume 2: Voices of African American Men , Judson Press, January 2003, ISBN 978-0817013622
  • Wright, Jeremiah A, Jr. (2004), "Doing black theology in the black church", p 13-23, 213-214. In Linda E. Thomas (Ed.), Living Stones in the Household of God: The Legacy and Future of Black Theology, Minneapolis: Fortress. ISBN 0-8006-3627-9
  • Wright, Jeremiah. "Here I am, send me". In Awakened to a calling: reflections on the vocation of ministry, Ann M. Svennungsen and Melissa Wiginton (Eds.), Nashville: Abingdon Press, c2005. ISBN 0687053900
  • Wright, Jeremiah. "In the Lord's house, on the Lord's day". In Awakened to a calling: reflections on the vocation of ministry, Ann M. Svennungsen and Melissa Wiginton (Eds.), Nashville: Abingdon Press, c2005. ISBN 0687053900
  • Iva E. Carruthers (Editor), Frederick D. Haynes III (Editor), Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. (Editor), Blow the Trumpet in Zion!: Global Vision and Action for the 21st Century Black Church, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, January 2005, ISBN 978-0800637125
  • Ernest R. Flores and Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Tempted to Leave the Cross: Renewing the Call to Discipleship, Judson Press, November 2007, ISBN 978-0817015244

Wright has written several books and is featured on Wynton Marsalis's album The Majesty of the Blues, where he recites a spoken word piece written by Stanley Crouch, and on the Odyssey Channel series Great Preachers.

See also


  1. Church official site
  2. Pastor Trinity United Church of Christ
  3. Wright, Jeremiah A. (1989). The pilgrimage of a pastor: The autobiography of Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr. Aaron Press, ASIN B0006F1LD4
  4. Bill Moyers Journa . Transcripts | PBS
  5. Factor military duty into criticism - Lyndon B. Johnson, Dick Cheney, The White House -
  6. Korb, Lawrence and Ian Moss. "Factor military duty into criticism". Available online. Archived.
  7. Emily Udell, "Keeping the Faith", In These Times, February 8, 2005. Available online. Archived.
  8. Yearbooks of the United Church of Christ, 1971-72
  9. Obama's Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11 Brian Ross and Rehab el-Buri, ABC News, March 13, 2008
  10. "Listening to Rev. Wright" OnPoint, 29 April 2008.
  11. Jeremiah Wright receives Simpson’s first Carver Medal
  12. The Majesty Of The Blues - Track list
  13. Great Preachers: Jeremiah Wright (1998)

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