10 Things You Didn't Know About the Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Compiled by the U.S. News Library Staff.


1. Jeremiah Wright Jr. was born on Sept. 22, 1941, in Philadelphia.

2. Wright comes from a family of pastors. His father, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Sr., was the pastor at Grace Baptist Church, and his grandfather and an uncle were pastors as well.

3. After high school, Wright entered the seminary at Virginia Union University, but he left because he was troubled by the prejudice he saw and felt that the church was not doing enough to support the civil rights movement.

4. Wright left school for six years to serve in the Marines and the Navy. He was a cardiopulmonary technician in the Navy, once working on President Lyndon Johnson.

5. Following his military service, Wright continued his education at Howard University. He would go on to complete two masters' degrees and one doctorate.

6. Wright originally planned to become an instructor at a seminary but decided to turn to preaching when he saw that many African-Americans were leaving Christian denominations for other faiths.

7. Wright became pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ (motto: "Unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian") in 1972.

8. The church, which was struggling at the time, had only 87 members then. By Wright's retirement earlier this year, Trinity had more than 8,000 parishioners, including Oprah Winfrey and the rapper Common, and operated dozens of outreach ministries.

9. Wright's sermons are aligned with black liberation theology, which seeks to meld Christianity with the African-American experience and address racism and injustice.

10. A Wright sermon called "The Audacity to Hope" inspired Barack Obama's remarks at the 2004 Democratic Convention and provided the title of Obama's second book.

Bill Moyers Journal (PBS)
Chicago Tribune
Detroit Free Press
Los Angeles Times
Trinity United Church of Christ
Washington Post