March 30th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama supporter calls Wright race controversy good for dialogue

Rep. Lewis sung and locked hands with Sen. Obama at a church service in Selma, Alabama last year.
Rep. Lewis sung and locked hands with Sen. Obama at a church service in Selma, Alabama last year.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, Democrat-Georgia, said Sunday that the controversy over Barack Obama's former pastor has reignited a conversation about race that could ultimately be beneficial for the country.

"The civil rights movement had the power to...what I call bring the dirt, the filth from under the American rug out of the cracks and corners, into the light so we can deal with it," said Lewis, a superdelegate who supports Obama, at a forum on faith and civil rights at Washington's National Cathedral. "Just maybe, just maybe, what is happening now will bring something out, so we all can be educated and sensitized."

While he did not mention Wright by name during a sermon he gave at the cathedral, Lewis indirectly addressed the Chicago pastor's fiery comments on race.

"During the past few days, the issue of race and the need for reconciliation have emerged through the presidential campaign. We know, and we all know, it's not a secret America had a dark past of division and separation," Lewis said. "But if we are to emerge unscarred by hate, we must learn to understand and forgive those who have been most hostile and violent towards us."

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–CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and Cody Combs

soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Kris from AZ

    I think it is good for race issues to be brought up and talked about. It is good for a multi cultural nation. Nobody is superior to anybody on this land. NOBODY! It is good for America's soul. GOD BLESS AMERICA! HOME OF THE BRAVE! NO MATTER WHAT SKIN COLOR YOU ARE!

    March 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Concern about Obama's Honesty

    What bothers me most is that Obama showed he's not honest about the Wrigh thing. At first he said he did not know about the controversial sermons. Then he said he rejected them but had not problem with his pastor. And then he said he would have left the church if Rev Wright had not retired.

    March 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. David

    Beneficial!! The only benefit is seeing Obama for the racist hatemonger that he really is.......... how can anyone be part of a church preaching such hatred and donate more than $25000 last year to support it. Either he loves the messages of hate and race or he is so out of touch that he didn't pick up on it... either way it is proof enough that he is incapable of leading the US.

    March 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Concern about Obama's Honesty

    What bothers me most is that Obama showed he's not honest about the Wrigh thing. At first he said he did not know about the controversial sermons. Then he said he rejected them but had not problem with his pastor. And then he said he would have left the church if Rev Wright had not retired

    March 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Elena

    Barack Obama will bring the country and the world together. He has a great mind, vision and a good heart. I know he and Michelle love this country.

    March 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Susan

    Yeah, from this photo it looks like Obama was just about to walk out of this man's church after 20 years. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you . . . .

    March 30, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. JOJo

    John Lewis is a flip flopper who supported Clinton orginally, but switched to Obama, because someone in his congressional district was going to run against him ,on the reason, that he wouldn't support Obama. All Lewis cares about is his congressional seat.

    March 30, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Chipo

    More about the filth of America... does this guy ever stop surrounding himself with America haters. God I would hate to see what the White House will look like if this guy wins.

    March 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Willy

    That's right, never go forward to the future always look back and stay in the past. You call that good logic?

    March 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Thank you, Senator Obama for giving Clinton your "permission" to stay in the race.

    March 30, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Allison Marie

    This is an issue with legs, and when the Republician attact machine gets a hold of it, they will play the sound bite over & over & over again with the comments of Obama's wife saying she's hasn't been proud of America until now.

    The Democrates view this differently than the GOP, and to think I hear Obama supporters using words like bloody up, what they are currently experiencing is a powder puff derby, and if he can't handle the debates with Clinton.....he should drop out, he seems very weak in this regard.

    This is why Obama has lost some support with Republicians and Independances.

    March 30, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. chris

    If Obama gets the nomination I will be a 40 year Democrat that will vote not just for McCain, but straight line Republican ticket. I will be let down in democracy, for it does not stand for the teaching of hate, much less to children. Yes there has been children taught this type of teachings in Reverend Wright church for the last 20 years. Just one child hearing this type of teaching is to many. I sure do not know what is wrong with America. After hearing these sermons (one of them being a 22 minute uncut sermon)How they or we can stand by and say it is OK.

    Sorry Obama, I can no longer support you or any one that does, (Nancy Pelosi)

    X-Obama supporter turned Republican 2008

    March 30, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Sam

    Does Rep. John Lewis' exhort ation for forgiveness include hostility and violence towards women who in the past were not even allowed to vote or at the present time not getting equal pay for equal work which in itself ends up sacrificing the children in a household of a single parent?

    Is this selective exhortation of forgiveness?

    March 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. jim

    yes i think that lewis is right..... just goes to show u that the dirty clinton campaign is not working like the clintons thought it would.
    pennsylvania has a big surprise for the clintons...
    we dont need anymore clintons in the white house... especially liars like hilary-- look at the spellng in hilary;;;;;;; what u get is one big fat LIAR..
    OBAMA IN 09
    COME ON PENNSYLVANIA DONT LET OBAMA SLIP AWAY FROM US.
    BY THE WAY I AM A 65 YR OLD SOLID REPUBLICAN WHO HAS CHANGED TO DEMOCRAT-- FOR OBAMA....
    AND I AM WHITE IF THAT MAKES ANY DIFFERENCE- I KNOW THE CLINTONS WOULD WANT TO KNOW THAT..........

    March 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. M. Steelpeton, PA

    . . .A man should be judged by his own words.

    March 30, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. JT in Dallas

    Oh please. This is not the sixties. We have enough things to deal with in this up-coming administration. We, this country, need to focus on how we are going to move forward in this global economy while at war. How are we going to protect America's overall well-being and the health of our children? They don't want to talk about that.

    Race, race, race. "Hostile and Violent towards us." That says it all Mr. Lewis, thank you! Wright got caught spewing the hatred that his congregation approves of. Now this superdelegate wants to step back in time to justify the hatred his brothers are generating IN CHURCH. Sad!

    We don’t need to regurgitate the hateful feelings Rev. Wright so loudly proves is alive in some black churches.

    This is not change people.

    March 30, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Illinois

    I would agree that all of us need to look at the history of racism and learn to forgive, but the concern I have is that there are some who feel that racism only goes one way.....and the reality is that racism cuts both ways. Blacks are just as prejudice as whites. Until the blacks are ready to acknowledge that they are just as racist, instead of blaming their racism on whites for what happened to their ancestors, very little is going to get accomplished. I belong to 2 different minority groups, but I don't hold a grudge against everyone and yet expect them to up for everyone else's discrimination against me.

    March 30, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Ann Marie

    These people need to acknowledge that racism works both ways. What happened years ago is an education for people to learn how not to treat a fellow human being. What is going on today is not one sided racism. This racism happening from both sides. and not by all people. The Reverend, who seems to be praised for his racism, because everyone is supposedly taking it out of context. The Reverends words spoke of racism, promoted racism, and exhalted the idea of eliminating a white race... This is not out of context but what was being preached. It doesn't matter how many sermons the Reverend made over his career... These are words of hatred violence and calls for action against the white people. I am disgusted with the medias fear to address this behavior as they did with Imus and Trent Lott. You cannot turn your head away from, and condone this behaviior from a Afro American and destroy a statement made by a white person. And why?? because of guilt and fear?? and a repayment of what happened during slavery.

    March 30, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Pamela

    Everyone of intelligent mind agree there must be a discussion about the race relations in the Unted States.I find it very strange that the call to discuss racial relations is met with defensive resistance among some sub-groups. As for the public stage, how does the conversation begin? What needs to happen to keep people from becoming defensive and claming up? This issue will not go away or be an accepted way of life as history has shown.

    March 30, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  20. Wayne, Lincoln NE

    Representative, John Lewis is correct. The Wright controversy, gave America the chance to come together with meaningful and highly constructive dialogue, towards a better understanding of one another as citizens and Americans. Well said Mr. Lewis!

    March 30, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. jimmy velman

    ALL THE SQUABBLING AND NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN RHETORIC
    WILL STOP IF EITHER CANDIDATE MAKE AN OFFER (IN SECRET
    NEGOTIATIONS OF COURSE) TO THE OTHER DEPENDING ON WHO WILL BE THE NOMINEE BASED ON THE POPLUAR VOTE AND THE NUMBER OF DELEGATES AFTER THE OREGON PRIMARY.
    THE CANDIDATE WITH THE MAJORITY SHALL BE THE ON THE TOP OF THE TICKET AND THE NUMBER 2 SPOT TO THE RUNNERUP.
    THIS WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED IF EACH CANDIDATE AGREES TO
    IT AND THE WINNER OFFERS THE NUMBER WO SPOT TO THE
    LOSER IN THE DELEGATE AND POPULAR VOTE COUNT.
    THE CLINTON CAMP HAD OFFERED oBAMA THE NUMBER TWO SPOT SOMETIME AGO. WHY CAN'T oBAMA MAKE THE SAME OFFER TO HILLARY AND HAVE THAT "DREAM TICKET" THAT MANY DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. MANY VOTERS THINK THAT OBAMA CANNOT WIN WITHOUT HILLARY AND VICE VERSA.
    THE THE TWO TOP DEMOCRATS NEED EACH OTHER AND THE SUPER DELEGATES WILL ENSURE A WINNING TICKET IN NOVEMBER.

    March 30, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  22. king from toronto

    everything happens for a reason,and this is exactly the reson it happened for.i agree.

    March 30, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. ron from Texas

    Wright said what white America knows to be true. there has been a double standard for over 200 years and wright preaches what other churchs should preach. Wright has helped the nation see it self for what it is. American must deal with its stained past before we can liberate the Iraqi people or any other people.

    March 30, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  24. jimmy velman

    THE WRIGHT CONTROVERSY WILL BE INEFFECTIVE IF THE HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTERS GET BEHIND AN OBAMA-CLINTON OR CLINTON-OBAMA TICKET...THE SHEER NUMBER OF DEMOCRATIC VOTERS FOR OBAMA AND HILLARY IS OVERWHELMING . NO COMBINATION OF REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES CAN WIN WITH THE "DREAM TICKET"
    IT WILL BE GOOD FOR THE DEMOCRATS TO STOP THE
    NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING BETWEEN THE OBAMA AND CLINTON CAMPS AND GET TOGETHER ON A PLAN TO HAVE BOTH ON THE SAME PRESIDENTIAL TICKET..

    March 30, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. henriettap

    Hopefully this campaign will help to bring our country together to discuss our problems of division between the different races. Weather we want to agree or not this has proven that there is still alot of work to done as far as realizing that we in America working going to school and living amongst every nationalilty on this planet and we are all diffderent in some aspects of life but we have something very much in common we are humans.That is what we should consider we are able to communicate with each other and yes to open the door for dialogue and work to bridge the gap of differences between the races.

    March 30, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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