Jeremiah Wright speaks at a Detroit NAACP dinner in April 2008. (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)
Jeremiah Wright speaks at a Detroit NAACP dinner in April 2008. (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (The Atlantic) — It didn’t seem like the proper setting for an angry, anti-American firebrand.

An amiable crowd was milling around the fellowship hall of the United Church of Chapel Hill on a Saturday morning, slurping coffee and eating bagels. Posters advertised trips to the Holocaust Museum, advocated for LGBT rights, and warned against ableism, with helpful definitions. The crowd skewed white and, as in many churches, older, but befitting this college town, it was an eclectic bunch: aging granola grandmas, middle-aged men in black jeans, and salt-and-pepper goatees, older men in suits.

What, exactly, was the Reverend Jeremiah Wright—former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, erstwhile minister to Barack Obama, and the man who infamously thundered, “God damn America!” doing here?

Lecturing on racial reconciliation, as it turns out—at least that was the idea. For nearly three hours, that’s mostly what Wright did. In the last 10 minutes, he couldn’t quite hold himself back, and the firebrand emerged. (Perhaps it’s no coincidence that his biblical namesake was known for angry harangues about injustice in society.) What does Wright think about the refugee crisis in Europe and anti-immigration rhetoric in the United States?


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