Photo: Robin Holland

Jeremiah Wright


In the spring of 2008, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and then-Sen. Barack Obama’s minister, became embroiled in controversy for “inflammatory rhetoric” that put the spotlight on a man whose views seemed to blame America for 9/11 and denounce the United States, using the phrase “Goddamn America.” After 20 years, Sen. Obama cut ties with Wright. In May 2008, Wright retired as senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, where he had served for 36 years. He became Pastor Emeritus.

Jeremiah Wright was raised in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. His father was a prominent Baptist minister and his mother a respected educator. In the early 1960s, Wright signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps, and later transferred to the Navy and served three more years as a medical technician. Later he earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University and went on to earn degrees from Chicago Divinity School and United Theological Seminary.

Wright became the pastor of Trinity Church in 1972. At the time, it was a struggling congregation with only 87 members and currently exceeds 6,000. Rev. Wright’s efforts to address the needs of the community had made Trinity one of the most politically active and socially conscious churches in the nation.