March 30th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
6 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. Rita

    Why doesn't Mr. Obama call his pastor what he really is instead of trying to sugar coat it and ram it down the throats of Americans as 'it's really nothing lets move on and forget about it'. Shameful

    March 30, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. jayme

    I DONT THINK ANYTHING CONCERNING WHAT WRIGHT SAID AS GOOD FOR POLITICS, OR GOOD FOR ANYTHING AS A MATTER OF FACT. THERE JUST ISNT ANY ROOM IN THE WORLD TODAY FOR THAT KIND OF ATTITUDE. JUST LIKE THE KKK AND BLACK PANTHERS, LOUISE FARRAKON AND DAVID DUKE, SOME THINGS WE JUST HAVE TO MOVE PAST. AND THAT IS WHAT ALOT OF OBAMA SUPPORTERS VOTED FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE. BUT IT DOESNT APPEAR THATS WHAT THEY ARE GONNA GET FOR THEIR VOTE. WITH ALL OF THIS THAT HAS GONE ON IN HIS PAST AND HIM SUPPORTING IT TO THE POINT OF EVEN GIVING OVER 27,000 DOLLARS TO WRIGHT AND THAT CHURCH LAST YEAR IT IS OBVIOUS WHERE HIS LOYALTIES AND MOTIVES ARE.

    March 30, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. AresXX

    Call to Hillary to quit is a warning. The DNC is forced stop Hillary's kitchen sink campaign against Obama. If she goes back to her negative campaign DNC will be forced to have "SUper Primary" to endorse Obama. Hillary must play by DNC's ground rules of objectivity if she wants to continue.

    March 30, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Phyllis/ PA

    Obama is not a unifier. He is a divider! Example: His big speech in Philadelphia got high praise from most of the media. Yes, he is a very talented speaker. Unfortunately, in order to down play the big question: How could he listen to hateful sermons for 20 years, Obama focused most of his speech lecturing on race problems in America. End result. Obama's speech has now increased racial problems. (Obama is no MLK. Obama is just a very cleaver politician.)

    Things are far from perfect between races, however, because of MLK and others like him, much progress was made. I encourage black ministers and their congregation to yell loud and clear that not all black churches preach hateful sermons. Write letters to the media. Call the media. Post here. I do not know the best way to undo the damage Obama's speech has done. However, I do know that failure to recognize this fact will result in an increase in racial tensions.
    ..

    March 30, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  5. Mary

    Obama is bad for America. In my opinion any one who sits in a church for 20 years listing to anti American hate sermons is not fit for the White House.

    March 30, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Molly

    Well – I guess we never will forget & forgive those who have been most hostile towards us! Thought we went thru all this in the 60's – guess not by the African Americans. Why not just Americans – why do we have special names for different groups???
    This is not about race – but – rather being a Christian American – of any race.

    March 30, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. jerome

    I agree with you very much, but my concern just like my friends and family members that live in Fl and MI. We all think about the speech you gave in washington along with Dr. MLK, Jr. So how can you stand by knowning that everyone have the right to vote. Why did Senate Obama and his campaign stop the revote in MI. Sir this is something you have always stood for.

    March 30, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  8. mike

    I think so. In fact, given our nation's world's status, rascism is the most shamful reality in our society. For those who have any doubts, you would think so if you ever travled to the South and central states.

    Obama is in fact a mixed race, in this regard, I think he has relatively better chances to be elected in the end. I know many Whites in the south indeed somehow have block blood. Of curse, many just do now say it publically.

    March 30, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. Roger

    Put some sugar on top of it, but it is still racism.

    March 30, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  10. Marie in California

    As a first generation American, a child of immigrants who came thousands of miles to arrive penniless in a "new land" where they had to learn a new language and build a new life from scratch, far from everything and everyone they ever knew, my views on race and ethnicity are simple.

    Equal rights, equal respect, equal opportunity, equal responsibility, equal accountability. Equality. Across the board. For everyone. Period.

    March 30, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  11. Ron R

    I'm a white 50 yr old male and I believe he is right. We can't keep sweeping the underlying tones of racism in this country under the rug forever..well said sir.

    March 30, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. citizenwells

    “And the notion that somehow it’s cute or amusing, or a useful diversion, I think, is something that all of us have to recognize is just not the case. We all have First Amendment rights. And I am a constitutional lawyer and strongly believe in free speech, but as a culture, we really have to do some soul-searching to think about what kind of toxic information are we feeding our kids,”

    March 30, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. JR

    What a wonderful idea. The question is do we really want to get this hundred year old issue straight or keep the race issue at its current status because its better to keep the confusion going so people can feel safe with the devil that they already know.

    March 30, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. please

    If you don't count the votes in Fl and Mi- then Obama wins by cheating.

    Who will vote for someone who cheats another democrat out of her victory?

    March 30, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. DecaturChik

    As a Georgia resident I will tell you that my next non-presidential vote in this state is for John Lewis' opponent.

    March 30, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. progressive conservative

    I think Wright's comments went to more than just race; they went to U.S. policies and provocation for the 9/11 attacks ("the chickens are coming home to roost"). We should explore some of our exploitative policies there as well, including how we've abused Iran and Palestine over the years. Why doesn't the "liberal" (hah hah) media ever engage in real debate on those issues?

    March 30, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. Hoosier

    Let's not forget Lewis switched his endorsement from Hillary after coming under pressure from Obama supporters. At least Mayor Nutter has the courage of his conviction to reject those who have injected race into this campaign.

    March 30, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. Richard

    The reverend Wright said what he said and it is clear what he meant. I cannot understand why any rational person would believe all of the spin that is being made of it.Full sentences are not snippets.

    March 30, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. Chris Mannoia

    Well, the Senator has been his usual, professional self in the face of all these racial attacks and inuendo following the story about is pastor; o.k., he offered explanation, right? We STILL have a war in Iraq, we STILL have our children dying over there, the price of fuel is STILL rising almost hourly, and we have thousands of people losing their homes, and MILLIONS of people (of all genders and races)losing their jobs; think maybe we should move past all this?

    Obama 08'

    March 30, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Fred Bowes

    If this had been Hillary Clinton they would be calling for her impeachment, Barack it is just a little bump in the road/

    March 30, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. andrew rubio

    a new day for america politic and history.

    March 30, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. Mike

    Talk about Spin-Doctoring!

    March 30, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. Yes, DM again Arlington, TX

    Senator Hillary Clinton has always said she was a strong backer of civil rights movement so where is she now. Former President Bill Clinton walked hand in hand the Senator John Lewis where is he now. When the Clinton's was using the civil rights issue to gather Black support now that we are in conflicts he's not standing with blacks.

    However, before the Clintons was all up in the Black Churches holding hands and Hillary clinton was saying she was Mrs. Minority.

    Tell me , where do she stand here in the time of trouble?

    March 30, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. POE

    . . .Anyone who says that they want to be judged by what someone else
    said is a liar.

    March 30, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. M. Porter

    . . .Senator Obama gave a brilliant speech whether we want to admit
    it or not. It sure got me to thinking.

    March 30, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
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