What seems like a lifetime ago, at least in Obama Years, in April 2008, a faithful RezkoWatcher discovered a remarkable resemblance between the March 18, 2008, “More Perfect Union” speech then-Sen. Barack Obama delivered in defense of his church’s pastor, the anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ (before he threw Wright under the bus, that is), and a speech delivered October 16, 1995, by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.
Before we go any deeper, let’s look at those speeches.
The following excerpt comes from Farrakan’s speech:
- And so our brief subject today is taken from the American Constitution and these words, ‘Toward a more perfect union.’ Toward a more perfect union. Now, when you use the word more with perfect, that which is perfect is that which has been brought to completion. So when you use more perfect, you’re either saying that what you call perfect is perfect for that stage of its development, but not yet complete. When Jefferson said, ‘Toward a more perfect union,’ he was admitting that the union was not perfect, that it was not finished, that work had to be done. And so we are gathered here today not to bash somebody else. We’re not gathered here to say all of the evils of this nation, but we are gathered here to collect ourselves for a responsibility that God is placing on our shoulders to move this nation toward a more perfect union.
Now, when you look at the word toward, toward, it means in the direction of, in furtherance or partial fulfillment of, with a view to obtaining or having, shortly before, coming soon, imminent, going on, in progress. Well, that’s right. We’re in progress toward a perfect union. Union means bringing elements or components into unity. It is something formed by uniting two or more things. It is a number of persons, states, et cetera, which are joined or associated together for some common purpose. We’re not here to tear down America. America is tearing itself down. We are here to rebuild the wasted cities. What we have in the word toward is motion. The Honorable Elijah Mohammed taught us that motion is the first law of the universe. This motion which takes us from one point to another shows that we are evolving and we are a part of a universe that is ever evolving. We are on an evolutionary course that will bring us to perfection or completion of the process toward a perfect union with God. In the word toward, there is a law, and that law is everything that is created is in harmony with the law of evolution, change. Nothing is standing still. It is either moving toward perfection or moving toward disintegration or under certain circumstances doing both things at the same time. The word for this evolutionary changing, affecting stage after stage until we reach perfection, in Arabic it is called rab, and from the word rab, you get the word rabbi, or teacher, one who nourishes a people from one stage and brings them to another stage.
Well, if we are in motion, and we are, motion toward perfection, and we are, there can be no motion toward perfection without the lord who created the law of evolution and is the master of the changes. Our first motion then must be toward the god who created the law of the evolution of our being. And if our motion toward Him is right and proper, then our motion toward a perfect union with each other and with government and with the peoples of the world will be perfected. So let us start where the process leading to the perfect union must first be seen.
The similarities in Obama’s speech not only resonate with those of Farrakhan but also with those he used following his own attendance at the Million Man March in a December 1995 interview with the Chicago Reader‘s Hank De Zutter. Compare the following excerpts from Obama’s March 2008 speech with those from 1995 by Farrakhan:
- The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American. …
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper. …
This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election. …
It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
All pretty much uninteresting by today’s standards, given Obama’s established record.
But, as always, there’s more.
I recently acquired a small book that includes a number of speeches and afterthoughts published after the Million Man March. The 1996 Attonement. The Million Man March includes a brief essay penned by Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. entitled, “A Religious Experience.”
In spite of various claims, it does not appear that Wright played a key role in planning the March. In fact, based on his entry, it appears that his appearance at the March was not highly esteemed.
Wright explains that he had discussed with “other Christian ministers” and his congregation at Trinity United Church of Christ whether or not he should attend the March. In the end, Wright and his 14-year-old son, Nathan, were two of the 516 members of TUCC that flew, rode or drove to Washington, D.C. for the gathering.
Wright was to have been one of the speakers, appearing on the program between Maya Angelou and Allendye Baptiste, who attended his son’s school. It was his understanding that he would be met at the airport by a car that would whisk him away to the venue. Wright, he informs, had confirmed by phone call the evening prior the details of his flight and arrival time. However, the car did not appear and Wright, his son, and hundreds of others took the Metro to the Mall.
What is so fascinating about Wright’s account are the reasons he gave for his so-called dilemma in determining whether or not he should go to the March. One would hope that budding politician Barack Obama might have engaged in a similar exercise.
Of Farrakhan, Wright writes:
- Worse than being an orthodox Muslim, the convener of the March was a Black Muslim, the head of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. Even worse than that, the convener, Minister Louis Farrakhan, is considered an anti-Semite, a race baiter, a sexist, a misogynist, and a demagogue. “Can anything good come out of Narazeth?” “Or a mosque out of the south side of Chicago?” “Or Farrakhan’s mind or his mouth?”
But Farrakhan was not Wright’s only concern:
- Rev. Benjamin Chavis, a United Church of Christ minister, did the actual organizing of the March, however, this was not to be taken into consideration at all. Just the mention of Rev. Chavez’s name muddled the waters even further. After all, he had just been “fired” from the NAACP for his sexist, misogynist behavior.
(In March 1997, Chavis converted to Islam and became a new minister in Nation of Islam.)
And then, Wright continues, there were “progressive and liberal African American clergy who were against the March” because they did not want to be used by Farrakhan. It is this group with which Wright “argued”.
Women and clergy argued against the “Muslim position on women” and Farrakhan’s “sexist comments” and refused to support his movement, Wright continues.
In the end, Wright and Barack Obama brushed all these valid reasons to stay away aside. Obama went along with the crowd, including more than 500 members from his church, and followed Rev. Wright and another of his mentors, and one of the March’s coordinators, Rev. Conrad Worrill, to Washington.
Also, keep in mind, Rev. Wright’s alleged wrestling match about backing or not backing Farrakhan was all for nought. Farrakhan graced the cover of Wright’s Trumpet magazine on more than one occasion — Barack Obama only appeared once — and, in 2007, Farrakhan was given the magazine’s Trumpeter Award.