Obama & the Black Church

Darryl Pinckney in the New York Review of Books:

Cari_obamaMy parents, old NAACP activists, live in front of CNN, and back in April I happened to be with them in Indianapolis the week before the Indiana primary, when the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy returned to embarrass Senator Barack Obama’s campaign. To my mother, passionately pro-Obama, nothing justified what she saw as Wright’s weekend of self-promotion: his speech to the Detroit NAACP and his performance at the National Press Club. “He’s clowning for the white folks,” she said.

My father, ferociously pro-Clinton because he doesn’t believe that even a moderate black man can be elected president in such a racist society, said that Obama had been wrong to repudiate his pastor. He should have stood by him in his North Carolina press conference as he had in his Philadelphia speech when he refused to strip Wright of his historical context as a man who “contains within him the contradictions…of the [black] community.” Black people wouldn’t like it, because they always took their pastor’s side. My mother countered that, on the contrary, black congregations were forever dumping their pastors. I wondered how much of this kind of back and forth was going on in black homes across the country. My parents did agree, however, that because of the Wright story the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Indiana’s law requiring voters to have valid photo identification was not being debated enough.

To see Obama in Philadelphia, reasoning with the American public, was to be struck yet again by what a different atmosphere he would bring to the White House.

More here.