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Obama's ex-pastor speaks out

  • Story Highlights
  • Wright spoke at NAACP $150-a-plate fundraising dinner in Detroit on Sunday
  • "I'm not here for political reasons," Wright said. "I'm not a politician."
  • "Different does not mean deficient," he emphasized
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(CNN) -- Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor told an audience of thousands at an NAACP dinner Sunday that he was "descriptive" but "not divisive" when he talks about race relations in America.

"I describe the conditions in this country," the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said during his lively keynote address at the Detroit chapter's 53rd Freedom Fund dinner.

"Conditions divide, not my descriptions," he said.

"I am sorry your local political analysts and your neighboring county executives think my being here is polarizing and my sermons are divisive, but I'm not here to address an analyst's opinion," he said. "I am here to address your 2008 theme ... (of) change is going to come."

Wright is a retired pastor from the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, where Obama worships.

Earlier this year, some of Wright's outspoken sermons, circulated and widely discussed on the Internet and on television, became an issue in the Democratic presidential race because of the former pastor's ties to Obama.Video Watch Wright say it wasn't his aim to address his critics »

In one sermon, Wright said America had brought the September 11 attacks upon itself. In another, he said Sen. Hillary Clinton had an advantage over Obama because she is white.

Obama gave a speech on race relations during the height of the controversy with Wright and said he rejected Wright's racially charged comments but could not repudiate the man himself.

"I'm not here for political reasons," Wright said Sunday. "I am not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media have made it seem as if I had announced that I'm running to for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office," he said.

"I've been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet."

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, who introduced Wright, told the retired pastor to "keep on preaching."

He said, "It's not about man's acceptance. It's about God's approval."

In Wright's lengthy, colorful address, he delineated what he felt the differences were between African-Americans and white Americans, including those in music, linguistics and education.Video Watch a CNN special correspondent and a contributor analyze Sunday's speech »

"Different does not mean deficient," he emphasized.

Discussing worship, he said, "We just do it different and some of our haters can't get their head around that."


Of the NAACP's theme, Wright said, "Many of us are committed to changing this world we live in so our children and our grandchildren will have a world in which to live in to grow in, to learn in, to love in and pass on to their children."

"A change is going to come. Can you feel it? Can you see it? Can you imagine it? Then come on, let's claim it." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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