Obama On the Wrong Side with Pastor Wright?

March 19, 2008

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Senator Barack Obama is trying distance himself from his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Obama delivered his speech yesterday morning—when most voters did not hear it. We sent reporter Shawn Allee to bring the speech to Chicagoans.

Hear Obama's full speech.

I bring headphones and a handy audio player to the corner of 35th and Halsted streets. I see Beth Boss taking a smoke. She says she saw Reverend Jeremiah Wright on T.V. railing against U.S. foreign policy.

ALLEE: Mr. Obama actually talks about that anger that he himself heard in the pews so let's listen to a clip that deals with what Mr. Obama says about that…

OBAMA: The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society it's that he spoke as if our society was static, as if no progress had been made.

ALLEE: Ok. Well?

BOSS: He does address being angry, and being wrong, the comments that the man made, but he's making up excuses for him.

Around the corner, I catch Mark Harrington. Harrington says he didn't catch obama's speech and lights up when I open my bag.

ALLEE: I was wondering if you might take the headphones here…

OBAMA: The legacy of discrimination and current incidents of discrimination, while less over than the past, these things are real and must be addressed, not just with words but with deeds.
 
ALLEE: You're nodding your head up and down.

HARRINGTON: Like Obama said, there're a lot of problems out here affecting everybody, and maybe Mr. Wright just wanted to focus on how black people suffered over 400-500 years, and we still have all these problems today, just compounding where we're trying to go, and we still haven't really gotten to that equal state yet.

Harrington says, if he were in Obama's shoes, he wouldn't have been too hard on a pastor, especially one who spoke at least a kernel of truth.

I'm Shawn Allee, Chicago Public Radio.