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Obama's Former Pastor Jeremiah Wright Calls Tea Party a '2.0 Upgrade of the Lynch Mobs' at MLK Day Event

Jeremiah Wright
Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. gives a keynote address at the 2008 NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Detroit, Michigan April 27, 2008. |

Speaking to roughly 400 people at a Martin Luther King Day breakfast on Monday, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright lashed out against the Supreme Court, incarceration and the Tea Party.

"Tell your children we have some unfinished business on the agenda with the voting rights bill gutted by a right-wing dominated Supreme Court, … with mass incarceration robbing black and brown communities of any positive future … with jobs being shipped overseas … with one branch of the Tea Party being nothing but a 2.0 upgrade of the lynch mobs … with some folks doing everything they can to get that black man out of their White House," said Wright, as quoted by the Wilmington News-Journal.

In a 30-minute speech, Wright, who filled in after the previous speaker canceled, called upon his predominantly African-American audience to remember their "great and glorious heritage" that started back from the African royalty and extended to the current day president and First Lady Michelle Obama.

He also invoked Moses' charge to the Israelite elders that there was "still some unfinished business on the agenda."

"And Moses said, in order to … complete this business … keep God in the center of your work," he added.

Local Tea Party members were quick to deny Wright's allegations of their group.

Evan Queitsch, who worked on Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell's unsuccessful bid, said that Wright's claims were not legitimate.

"Rev. Wright has always been a controversial figure who makes sensational claims that often turn out to be unfounded and untrue," Queitsch wrote in an email to Wilmington News-Journal. "I have been involved with the Tea Party since it's inception here in Delaware, and I have never once heard or seen anything at a Tea Party rally, 9-12 meeting or Patriot group event that was racist or ever even suggested that the president's race has anything to do with the concerns raised."

Some attendees praised Wright for his message.

New Castle County Council President Christopher Bullock, said it was important to see the broader scope behind Wright's words.

"You have to understand the context and audience. What he said was specific for that audience based on his opinion," Bullock said. "I think what he was trying to say was we still have some challenges and obstacles facing us before the dream is fulfilled."

Bullock also suggested that allegations like those about Obama's birth certificate had "racial overtones" that were "not American."

"[The Tea Party has] said some things ... that have not been appropriate and some things that were downright racist and not acceptable," he added.

Wright made headlines 2008 for his close connections with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, after comments from a sermon about Sept. 11, 2001, made the same year as the attacks, and seemed to many to suggest that the United States had brought 9/11 upon itself.

He also received significant media attention that same year for a sermon he gave in 2003 where he alleged that the government had lied about Pearl Harbor, The Gulf of Tonkin and the War in Iraq.

Additionally, Wright denounced the U.S. government's actions with regard to Japanese-Americans, Native Americans and African-Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America — that's in the Bible — for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human," he said.

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