In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which was pastored by Jeremiah Wright.
Why was the church so successful? Obama talks about Wright’s dynamism combined with his education, but there were also the activities that Trinity offered. Moreover, while Obama says that there were African-American males who avoided church because they considered it to be more of an activity for women, he also discusses how church gives people a sense of mission, purpose, connection, and community—-a place that honors people when they die. And church gives people comfort during their problems. Obama talks about a sermon that Wright gave, “The Audacity of Hope” (which happens to be the title of Obama’s second book), which is about finding hope in the midst of hopelessness. The sermon touches on economic and other problems.
Another issue that came up was Wright’s hope that African-Americans would economically prosper, without succumbing to a middle-class mindset—-one that focuses on prospering and forgets about those in the city who still have problems. Wright’s assistant was moving to the suburbs for the sake of her child, but Wright did not think that she was making things better for the kid. According to Wright, he wouldn’t have a clue about who he is, and life is not safe anywhere for African-American men. That brought to my mind something I read earlier in Dreams: Obama mentioned a teacher who said that African-American children learn about other people’s history and thus have a sense of alienation, plus the men lack fathers who can teach them how to channel their energies into constructive directions.