On Sunday, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama's former faith leader, took to the pulpit at New Tabernacle Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois. Aside from addressing the deadly violence that has taken the city by storm, Wright publicly defended the Minister Louis Farrakhan and lectured African Americans about preventing black-on-black violence.
The solution to the uptick in the chaos, Wright told the audience at the church's anti-violence program, is a combination of citizens -- and government -- getting involved to alleviate it. But government, regardless of which side of the aisle is elected, isn't the end-all-be-all solution, he maintained.
"Some of these things have to do with the government and some of these things have to do with our relationships with each other," he said, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. "Neither Martin Luther King nor Barack Hussein Obama can change the systemic evil...Let me put it another way — don't think a change in government will straighten this situation out.”
The audience of 75 included at least one leader from the Chicago Teachers Union and representatives from Farrakhan's Nation of Islam (NOI), among others. Considering this latter group's presence -- and Farrakhan's supposedly-warn relations with Wright -- it's interesting to note the subsequent, pro-Farrakhan comments that were made.
While the two faith leaders may be friends, both have received a plethora of negative attention for alleged anti-Semitism and often-racially-charged messaging. The fact that Wright essentially backed Farrakhan during the speech -- aligning himself with the NOI leader -- could create more controversy for the duo, although neither individual has been particular dissuaded by others' critiques of their rhetoric.
"Oh don’t mention Mr. Farrakhan, come on y’all," Wright proclaimed to applause.
"A lot of preachers are afraid to say Mr. Farrakhan is a friend of mine. You can’t tell me who my friend is," the fiery faith leader continued.
Wright made these comments while speaking about NOI's recent anti-violence activities in Chicago. At the end of July, Farrakhan participated in a march in an apparent effort to encourage youths to avoid lives of crime. While Wright has accolades for Farrakhan, TheBlaze's Erica Ritz noted that NOI adherents went door-to-door handing out a controversial (i.e. racially-charged) DVD sermon by Farrakhan called "Justifiable Homicide: Youth in Peril."
Here's a past address during which Farrakhan addressed these themes:
Despite the faith leader's controversial nature, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also recently released a statement in support of the NOI's efforts.
"They have decided, the Nation of Islam, to help protect [the] community and that’s an important ingredient like all the other aspects of protecting a neighborhood," Emanuel said.
Chicago has faced a slew of violence in recent months. At the end of July, NPR provided a recap of just how dire the situation is:
This has been a summer of blood, sweat and tears in Chicago. The city has been scorched by historic heat, and the homicide rate has soared. When the sun goes down behind the glimmering lakeshore skyline, blocks on the South and West Side of the city can ring with shots and sirens.
The streets of neighborhoods like Englewood, Grand Crossing and Garfield Park are empty, even during the day. In the middle of this summer, it is rare to see a child ride a bike or walk a dog.
"A child should not have to say, 'I can't go out because I might get shot.'" resident Michelle Harris says at a community meeting at the Englewood police station. "That's bad, that's bad."
In the end, local leaders are apparently encouraging any and all individuals of influence -- including Farrakhan and Wright -- to be involved in efforts to keep the peace. However, it's worth asking if the sometimes-virulent messages that these individuals embrace will be transferred to those youths who may encounter their sermons and views.
(H/T: Chicago Sun-Times)