Rhyming reverend gets last word at Obama inaugural

January 20, 2009

WASHINGTON – Rev. Joseph Lowery was back on stage with a president, but on Tuesday the civil-rights pioneer used his wry rhymes to welcome the U.S. leader, not skewer him as he did three years ago.  OBAMA

Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr., delivered the benediction at Barack Obama’s inauguration as first black U.S. president.

Lowery prayed for healing from a era of “greed and corruption,” and asked, in verse, for divine help toward a new beginning of racial harmony:

“We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right,” Lowery said to laughter from the vast audience.

In 2006, speaking before then-president George W. Bush and three former presidents at the funeral of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, Lowery delivered a stern rebuke to Bush’s conduct of the Iraq war and domestic policy.

“We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we know, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more, but no more for the poor,” he said then.

Critics charged that the remarks were out of place at a funeral. Lowery defended them as relevant to Mrs. King’s life.

Also speaking at the inauguration was evangelical pastor Rick Warren, who said in his invocation that “Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven” over Obama’s historic presidency.

Gay-rights supporters had criticized Obama for awarding the inaugural showcase to Warren, an influential supporter of a successful ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California.

But Lowery got the last word, and a chorus of Amens.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (Lowery speaks at Obama inauguration, Jan. 20)

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Ok is it just me or what. I feel like his prayer had racism in it?

From this comment:

“We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right,” Lowery said to laughter from the vast audience.,” Lowery said to laughter from the vast audience.

What a joke. It is only fitting that a racist Rev has the final word. This campaign would have nothing to do with Obama’s Rev. Both have the same kind of speech.

What a joke to say this when it is History for a black man is elected for President.

Posted by J | Report as abusive

More insults for the whites. This seems to be par for the course for this candidate turned President

Posted by Will | Report as abusive

I didn’t see everyone laughing at the rhyme, I think it should have been left out. I don’t think the people of Asian or European background who supported President Obama were all that pleased with it. Let all Americans be politically correct from now on, after all, everyone is a person of some color. And if Reverend Lowery plans on doing any more public speaking, maybe he should take a look at the current politcal scene before blurting out some inappropriate rhyme from an era gone by.

Posted by Yakety | Report as abusive

Historical perspective required here:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg i?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/01/28/DDGL74 I9TF1.DTL

Posted by flarrfan | Report as abusive

As a middle aged white woman, I found nothing wrong with what he said.

Maybe it hit a racist nerve for those of you offended.

Posted by Jenny | Report as abusive

Not every White needs to embrace what is right in the future…but you can bet that there are some of every race who need to do so. Just when I had hope we could be Americans instead of categories along comes this slam. I married my black husband in 1975,in Biloxi MS where we stationed as USAF members. I am what you call white and I never saw color till people of color shoved it in my face. I faced anger and abuse for my mixed marraige but you can believe me it was NOT all from whites.

Posted by Ellen | Report as abusive

i thought that with an african american in office we were turning away from racism, i guess it just doesnt apply to black people

Posted by Loose | Report as abusive

Forget about it, it’s the new way, the end of racism as we know it and the start of the Obama followers racism.

Posted by ted | Report as abusive

I was very offended by his speech. I felt that the part about colors should have been left out. Who is he to say White people need to embrace what is right? You can not lump a bunch of people into one category simply by the color of skin and then make comments in reference to the entire group of people. That is racism, so yes, I think what he said today was extremely racist! That part of the speech discredited everything else that was said today…it was completely unnecessary!

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive

A pot is a pot. A couch is a couch. A pen is a pen. The good Rev spoke the truth. He made the truth palateable with humor. Those who are afraid of change will never be satisfied with anything – except – the status quo – no matter how dehabilitating. My hope is that all the nay-sayers get a light bulb over their head.

Posted by eloise | Report as abusive

To those who felt Lowery’s comment was racist…thin skinned aren’t we? Can you for a moment step out of your shoes and imagine what he went through in his lifetime? I believe he put up with a lot more than a few words.

-yellow and mellow

Posted by Firecracker | Report as abusive

As a blond haired, blue eye-d, mid-30s male, I found Mr. Lowery’s speech quite well done.

Racism comes from all sorts, it always has and always will. If you found his comments racist in any way then you should probably lighten up just a tad bit.

Posted by Pete | Report as abusive

It’s called post-racial humor. Once you know a person’s race is meaningless, you can make fun about it. Ask anyone under 30 about it.

Posted by N | Report as abusive

We citizens are having trouble with our multicultural composition. I enjoyed the benediction more than the designated poet’s offering and Rick Warren’s
prayer-speech. In future, I hope we are not so hyper-sensitive about our differences and more interested in what we can do together.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Why oh why is there a double standard continuing? Count me as offended, if not by the words, but by the standard. All this confirms is we are still dividing people by category, so that our politicos can continue in their positions by pandering to these groups, which serves no useful purpose to individuality intended by our Constitution. The double standard. Shame on the media, for they are the ones that can reverse this trend. Shame on those who misuse their powers by either promoting it, or not brave enough to speak out against it.

Posted by C Merkle | Report as abusive

Yes, it had a racist tone to it. Unfortunate to come from a “man of God”. Those who support his words would be screaming bloody murder if it was a republican or if Pastor Rick Warren made the same statement. There is no denying it at all.

Oh well, just an observation like others see it.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

shut up whiners (Jen, Ted, Will etc… it was funny….”waaahhh racist against whites”. It’s really annoying and makes you look like sore losers. I am sure you do not speak for all whites as you may think you do. It was not that serious mkay………

Posted by Tina | Report as abusive

These racist reverends are suitable clowns for the parade.

No more excuses…Abolish Affirmative Action.

Get to work and carry your load, rather than blaming others for your problems while simultaneously expecting them to pay your bill…

Posted by K | Report as abusive

Why is it only white should enbrace what is right? There is a lot of racism in all walks. I hear it on the bus and the train. I hear it in the music on the radio. I see it in graffiti. It seems only whites can be accused of racism.

I have accepted that a person should be judged on their own character. But society wants to slam racism in my face at every opportunity. When society stops being racist, we will all be better off.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

It felt like being in a group of people where you feel happy and included, and then someone in that group insults you, and only you, making you feel that you really are not accepted.
A sour note in a happy day, for me at least.

Posted by tracy | Report as abusive

As a Canadian, I was in awe of the entire inauguration, especially the benediction. Shame on you who criticized it,you should be so proud of your country now and move forward with positivity rather than negativity.

Posted by Sharon Price | Report as abusive

People, lighten up!!! Politics is racialized and complex enough… why spew and spin the negative feedback on such an uplifting day?

As an Asian woman, I was not offended at all by Rev. Lowery’s commentary. In fact, I found it refreshing and impressed that he was able to posture some jest into a serious subject matter such as race.

Posted by The Wrong Beach | Report as abusive

“shut up whiners” typical liberal telling others to shut up so they can insult people they know nothing about except from 15 words in this forum. Also coming from a person who obviously belongs to a crowd that’s contributed over 25 million hits on google’s servers crying about George Bush for one reason or another going back to Al Gore and 200 they still complain about today!!

Yet Obama’s president for two hours and his opponents aren’t allowed to speak without being called whiners according to Tina.

Posted by ChicagoRay | Report as abusive

We are all U.S. citizens not a box of crayons. My background is mixed with English, German, Indian, and Italian. Im not white! Im AMERICAN! Thats the way we should look at things. Get over it! Racism only exist because we let it bother us.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

I found the conclusion of the good Reverend’s benediction rather mean-spirited.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

Racist and inappropriate. Obama spoke of unity and this guy tried to divide us yet again. Someone should remind him that its 2009–not 1909. We just welcomed a black president. Stop with the hate.

Posted by Anna | Report as abusive

I don’t get it. Can someone please explain to me how a country with a government that claims by law (its very first law) that it will not support any religious belief above another begin the very first moments of its new executive branch with a Judeo-Christian religious ceremony?

Posted by Beck Lomax | Report as abusive

Talk about racism. This man needs to think about what he said. We are all americans and if he and other would stop with the colors and who is what maybe more can get to where they need be.

Posted by Shirley | Report as abusive

I was offended. That’s all I have to say.

Posted by Joe In Chicago | Report as abusive

Rev. Lowery, as most of you know, walked with the late Martin Luther King, Jr. As mentioned before, he has seen the dark side of racism that I’m sure most of could only imagine. The man is old and probably on the tip of being senile. He was simply trying to lighten things up. If the caucasian population is that upset over the comment, why don’t you build a time machine, go back and speak to your ancestors and ask them why they chose to be ignorant?

Posted by sorci | Report as abusive

Absolutely pathetic and ignorant. The rev should have stayed home. I am by NO way an Obama fan, but his little rhyme and digs at the previous administration were totally uncalled for. A sad day for anyone who doesn’t welcome socialism.

Posted by Ellie | Report as abusive

40 years of progress in American race relations flushed down the toilet!

Posted by Fishleg Murphy | Report as abusive

One of the great logical falacies used against us is the use of the collective, as in this case. Often it’s “our children” or “our families.” There is no collective. Each of us is an individual.

Posted by John Hendricks | Report as abusive

First, calling Asian-American yellow is racist. Secondly, it is time that the Asian-Americans in our country quit being mellow and start standing up for their rights. Blacks may no longer be in the back, but that does not mean that they do not need to respect others.

Posted by Pat Wright | Report as abusive

“When white will embrace what is right.” What about blacks? In the name of what is “right” and for the cause of equality are they going to shun the term “African-Americans” and just be Americans? Are they going to call for “Black History Month” to be done away with? Are they going to stop the scholarship fund that caters only to blacks? They segregate themselves every chance they get. They are still in shackles but it is mental and they put it on themselves. Once they cast those off they can finally be equal.

Posted by Joshua | Report as abusive

Why all the rhetoric about color, Amerika needs a man of character. We had white for the last 8 years but no character or integrity. I want someone with depth of character and integrity. Today we have the color but once again no depth of character or integrity. It will take Americans at least a year to figure this out.
Next time voters go to the plate they will be batting for Dubaya’s brother Jeb.

Posted by John Taylor | Report as abusive

On a day that was otherwise mostly positive and forward-looking, Reverend Lowery’s racial comment was an embarrassment. “… when white will embrace what is right”? This is 2008, not the 1960s. It was really not the time or place to insult an entire race of people. To those of you who say “lighten up” — this is a historical event, and deserves a little more respect and reverence, not a racist rhyming reverend.

Posted by Maude | Report as abusive

Wow, to me the Reverend’s Benediction was the most inspiring part of the whole inaugural affair! He is a real spiritual elder. As a “white” person (whatever that really means) I appreciate his wisdom and did not take offense to the elder’s words and enjoyed his sing-song, loving delivery.

Posted by Dr. D. | Report as abusive

The man definitely stole some thunder and rightly so. It was a true joy listening to him and I almost walked away. Thank God I’m always the last to leave a good time. I have never been more proud to call myself an American, and not because we elected a black man, but because we looked into ourselves and voted for the right man.

Posted by Paul Farrell | Report as abusive

Yes, it would have been slightly more palatable if the reverend had just said “and everyone will learn to embrace what is right”, rather than insinuate that it is only whites that have issue with doing right by others. But overall, it was fine with me, a white guy. The main point is that Americans of ALL COLORS and ALL BACKGROUNDS finally voted in someone with the brains and temperment to lead this great country. Buh-buh-buh bye Bush!

Posted by snowinhawaii | Report as abusive

To be truly marked as non-racist one needs not divide people into color categories – this prayer did so by assuming that all white people “are wrong” -which is a judgment in character not merely a skin tone-which is egregiously juxtaposed to Dr King’s speech. What ever happened to “the character and content of one’s heart?” have we swung so far from the truth of this message that we are guilty of the same?

Posted by susan | Report as abusive

It was completely tacky!

Posted by Kim | Report as abusive

If this had been a white right-winger’s speech the crowd would have erupted into violence, not amens.

Posted by Whitey Ford | Report as abusive

It is strange that the truth hurts the priviledged of this world. Rev Lowery was a pioneer in a time where some folk were not priviledged to enter places because of the color of their skin. So what was said was true…and sometimes the truth hurts. It was a very lovely benediction.

Posted by Jen Fad | Report as abusive

It would be nice if our new President would repudiate such hateful remarks. Especially since millions of “racist” whites voted for him. What a tragedy that this person had to follow up a nice, happy inaguration. Also ashame, as one poster said earlier, that we are all reduced to being “crayons” by this “Rev”.

Posted by GS | Report as abusive

The benediction was offensive. I am white and most of my black colleagues spoke about the racial message and the tone of this prayer. Prayers can be curses if they are worded just right. He cursed the white people by demanding that they embrace what is right. He then backed it up with several “Amens.” The camera then shows the many people smiling and encouraging the racial tone. This is not excuseable. The NAACP and other groups that “watch” for racial intolerence have just as many demons and prejudice simmering in them. Obama is not perfect and people around him are not perfect. There should be an appology for the statement. But of course there is no white authority to kiss up to ala Jesse Jackson. We can only sit back and understand that in 2009 it is not enough that a man who happens to be black has to be reminded that he is half white in order to make him “acceptable” as Presient and that a senile old Reverend and kick back with such glee in an alleged reverent prayer and declare that white people have to embrace what is right. How evil are we white folk anyway? There is no Post racial administration and this will not kill racism in America. It is obvious that those who always claim to be without sin have cast the first stone. What an embarrassment.

Posted by Clyde | Report as abusive

I’m really disappointed in all the people that are reading hate and segregation in what the Rev. said. It is with sadness that I read some of these responses, sadness because so many people commenting here are ignoring the message meant. Maybe he did not say what you would have, but it makes it no less worthy. This was what he had to say, and it was him asked to do a benediction.

One commenter said “40 years of progress in American race relations flushed down the toilet.” In my mind, they must have had a very low view of the progress if they thought it could be destroyed with one mans words.

The Rev. was not speaking for segregation. He said things such as “pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.” Segregation? Separation? No. “Help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.” (And it seems some commenters here are falling on the wrong side.)

To me, it meant something the he was not narrow minded in speaking of faith. “And us we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.” I hear, nor read, segregation, separation in that.

I suggest you listen more closely and maybe you will hear that ending, that final sentence – “That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.” Listening to his words, I say amen. Maybe, with close attention, an open heart, you will hear “amen” echoing in your heart.

Posted by Nicole | Report as abusive

What happened to: “Once you go black, you dont go back.” ?

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

that was a totaly ignorant and racist statement and if the race was reversed in the statement,” blacks should emrace whats right “, i can here the uproar already

Posted by richard | Report as abusive

You KNOW that every speach and prayer was “approved” prior to delivery. I had my radio on—I heard later that Obama smiled and nodded in approval of that racist (totally anti-white) part of the “prayer.” I guess this is what we now have to look forward to. I hope all of you who voted for him are happy now. For me, I pray for his conversion to real Christianity—especially that he’ll change his position from promoting infanticide to one of pro-life for the weakest—the unborn, newly born, and elderly and infirm. God help us! I am not celebrating today, but AM praying and I thank former President Bush for his Pro-life stand and his keeping us safe and his majority of years of a thriving economy—too bad he was stopped by Congress so it would all collapse.

Posted by Bern | Report as abusive

One last thing.As usual Reuters can’t figure out what was wrong with the comments by Lowery but of course they can remind us of Rick Warren and his controversy.

Posted by Noel Granite | Report as abusive

Every word was eloquent until the good Reverend stood up to the podium. I, as a white American, am tired of being blamed and playing the “blame game” for the past. I have always taught my children to be tolerant of all races. After today, however, I give up. The majority of Obama’s supporters were white, but today the Reverend’s message was loud and clear, “Some of us blacks are not ready to get along.”

Posted by Renee’ | Report as abusive

The Rev should have stayed at the house.

Posted by Ricky | Report as abusive

The point was the point.It was ALL wonderful. LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!. It was a prayer, not a debate. Celebrate this great day that an intelligent, strong, smart man has come in to the Presidency. Be grateful! Those of you that are still so “ouchy” maybe you should travel out of your zone to see the rest of the world. You’ll appreciate this great day more.
signed, An average (white) American.

Posted by Jeff Holdquist | Report as abusive

The prayer was beautiful until the last sentence all but nullified the spirit of it. Even Obama cringed at the racist line. Why is racism only wrong for white people in this political climate?Why can’t we talk honestly about it? I am happy that Obama seems to be proposing a much more inclusive philosophy than some of his supporters would like.

Posted by EILEEN P CONNORS | Report as abusive

The double standard is sickening. Lowery makes a racist remark and the press, other than right wing blogs, ignores it completely and praises Reverend Lowery! Yet, Rick Warren would sneeze and they would be all over it.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

I am OUTRAGED at the verbiage and context of Rev Joseph Lowery’s benediction today. Had a white man said the reciprocal statement, he would have been crucified by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and others of the same ilk. This was not a message of American unity, it was a message that is no less racist than the rantings of the Imperial Wizard of the KKK. Shame on you, and Obama, too!

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

This is from an old childrens song .I mean this song is as old as dirt it must go back at least a hundred years .I am 52 and this was old when I was a kid.That is probably why as the article says that the crowd laughed.

Posted by rich | Report as abusive

I am White and I have done something right. Thanks to Obama, I voted Republican for the first time. I can’t wait to vote again for Sarah Palin in 2012!

Posted by Jerry | Report as abusive

I was offended by the reverend’s speech today. Not only was he blatantly racist and stereotypical, but it is a prime example of what Barack Obama stands for… and America elected into office!

Posted by Jackie | Report as abusive

Rhyming Reverend? That’s it? How about Controversial Pastor? Rev. Lowery’s otherwise eloquent benediction was sadly overshadowed by his final remarks of prayer that were neither funny nor appropriate. They were absurd. But not nearly absurd as the fact that Rev. Warren was more criticized yesterday for what he might say, than Rev. Lowery has been criticized for what he did say today. Regardless of the context or origins of the rhyme, it should have been rephrased or simply left out all together. Can you imagine the kind of outrage there would be if it was Warren who prayed to God something like, “We ask you to help us work for that day when we’ll see that white be alright, when the red man can get ahead, man; when yellow is known for more than the cello, when brown will mellow down, when black don’t be whack.” Rev. Warren would be run out of town on rail, and rightly so. For me personally, Rev. Lowery’s statements were tactless and mildly offensive, however I’m willing to extend him a good measure of grace and forgiveness. His significant contribution to the civil rights movement and our American history is unquestionable. His starkly contrasted and polarized view of race relationships, formed in the midst of a dramatically charged time, is understandable. But it’s the noble intentions behind his words, if not their immediate effect, and our God, who is the God of our weary years and silent tears, that I can embrace without reservation.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

When black will not be asked to get in back? Was it just me or did I not see the following blacks front and center:
a black President, First Lady, children, lady singing, man playing music, lady reading poetry…

Posted by Random | Report as abusive

I don’t get why the Rev. said “yellow should be mellow”. Yellow is refered to as Asians. I am an Asian guy , and i think we are very mellow, but after all that was a funny rhyme.

Posted by duke | Report as abusive

you people relax, breathe in some fresh air
and say something if you are a minority and had to fight to be treated equal. If not, allow others to get to where you are, just because they are gods children on earth same as you.

Posted by white man | Report as abusive

The remark in question was blatantly more racist than the remark Don Imus got crucified for. I was watching the reverend live, thinking maybe we have a chance. Then it was instant barf. I’m po’d. Where are the news media? Why aren’t the talking heads screaming as never before? Will all government correspondence now be addressed to the blackhouse.gov ?
Though I did not vote for President Obama, I do wish for him all the strength and mental toughness that will be expected/demanded of him for the next 4 years. He has some tough decisions to make. But like the other presidents, when he leaves office he’ll look like he has been beat down on Chicagos’s south side. I keep in mind that ever so correct adage ‘You can’t please everyone’. How true. As a young child my mother taught me to always pray for the President and to pray for our country. Beginning with JFK I did, and will continue to do so.

Posted by drosselmeier | Report as abusive

Yes, it was pure racist and hate but he can do that white males cannot. This double standard will be the undoing and finish of america. It’s over turn out the lights.

Posted by Bill Whitlow | Report as abusive

Excuse me? Did I miss something? The Reverend’s comments were not at all offensive, nor racist or sterotypical. ” we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.” Just because he acknowledges certain colors or races does not at all make him racist in anyway. This whole thing is absurd and I strongly disagree.

Posted by Troi | Report as abusive

I’m just elated to know that it’s not racist call Asians “Yellows” and native Americans “Reds”.

Posted by Nobody | Report as abusive

Reverend’s message was loud clear and poetic -And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.-
A very close call to the Gospel of Jesus.
The reading and understanding of the whole speech of benediction gives an articulated sense to the message; unfortunately, the eloquent last paragraph charged with sense of humor about the the historic oppression and exploitation of African slaves and descendants was misunderstood for some persons. We need, specially in these times, to cultivate an spirit of critic and capacity of analysis, in order to evolve as a mature country and do not repeat again and again the experience of another similar Bush administration.

Posted by Rosa Sanson | Report as abusive

The speech was completely racist… is it such a dream for the “white to embrace what’s right”?? we are doomed… over the next 4 years, we will be overwhelmed with racist comments and antiwhite movements. obama is a racist n….

Posted by Random | Report as abusive

..”when white will embrace what is right”..

I see. And the reverend Lowerys type is going to be the judge and jury as to when “white will embrace what is right”. Is that right? That’s a good racket. It’s also not Christian at all. Didn’t Christ,(I assume the reverend Lowery is a Christian minister?)say that all are guilty and have sinned. “when white will embrace what is right”, that is an incredibly ARROGANT JUDGEMENTAL statement and unchristian to boot. I think the reverend Lowery should pray for guidance.

Posted by Bobby | Report as abusive

So outage is fine when you “think” someone just accused you being racist, but its perfectly fine for gays and lesbians to be compared to pedophiles and accuse them of incest. GMAFB. Lowrey at least came across as genuine and sincere. Warren’s words were hollow and tired. Nothing new and original. And ONLY inclusive if you are a Christian.

Posted by Inlookout | Report as abusive

I am disgusted by this so called reverand’s suggestion that “whites should embrace what’s right.” He’s a racist. Shame on Obama for letting him use racist language against white people at his inauguration. So much for unity!

Posted by My 2 Cents | Report as abusive

Your interpretation of the Reverend’s comments as being “divine help toward a new beginning of racial harmony” were so interesting. I also enjoyed everyone’s attempt to make these comments palatable to white people by claiming that they were being made because of the historic aspect of those comments. I am reminded of the other famous situation when we were asked to analyze the word IS. Didn’t it go something like…if is is is? Sad that on such an important date in history that these were made and laughed at. I wonder what future generations will make of them? Are they racist? Of course they are.
And by the way, is is always is!

Posted by mthd | Report as abusive

Everyone needs to get over themselves already! You asked the Dems to get in line and support Bush as he announced the invasion of Iraq…and we did…support our President. You crucified those who spoke out against the war and the President. How do feel about that war and that ex-Pres now? The Reverend’s speech today was not indicative of some sort of reverse racism set to rear its ugly head. That is simply ridiculous thinking which has echoes of the fear your new President has asked you to put aside. Say, Amen, Amen, and Amen!

Posted by Sherri | Report as abusive

We’ve come a long way in a couple generations and I think that rhyme is a good reminder of that. Hopefully it makes you think about how we’ve come from racial slurs being OK to white people being offended by the implication that they are NOT doing what’s right with respect to treating others with respect.

When you decide whether someone is “racist” or whether it is OK that someone says something, think for a moment on the intent of what they say. Rev Lowery included that rhyme in his prayer probably to add a dash of humor, and yeah maybe it was cheesy, outdated, and un-PC, but the message is that he wants us to live in a world free from racism. Rev Warren likened gay marriage to adults marrying children because he wants people to perceive gay relationships as unnatural and wrong.

Posted by Lorna | Report as abusive

all part of the hypocrisy,politics from the pulpit in a white church, because of aclu and similar groups they could loose charity status,but how many campaigns are staged from the pulpit of a black church?it is part of the service,never a mummer of objection.if obama and others had walked out when the should have, then the double standard might not exist,and there might be a lot more mixed congregations which would be a good thing.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Shame on reverend Lowery for stating a shallow, stupid racist remark at the inauguration. He should have said that humankind needs to get it right. This is so shallow, esp. when so many youths are using guns to settle quarrels, and so moms are having babies with so many different fathers. This cycle has not changed. I have seen it for many years working in the public. So the rev. needs to open his eyes, and not talk stupid!

Posted by et | Report as abusive

Lowery is a reverse-racist. He knew better, but also knew he could get away with it from a complicit mainstream press.

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

Give Obama a Chance – This is his first dance – He might have a plan – He might be the man – This is day one – let him have fun – But he better not hide behind Hillary’s Pantsuit – Or in 4 years he’ll get the boot.

Posted by Norm Smith | Report as abusive

Rev. Lowery is nearly 90 years old, give him a break! He founded the SCLC with Martin Luther King, Jr. and marched and fought for civil rights in this country wtihout which there would certainly be no President Obama today. How is saying when white will embrace what is right racist? Are all of you trying to say that because a black president was elected that racism no longer exists in this country…are you kidding me? How many people were polled during the campaign who said that they would never vote for Obama because he was black? Where were all of you holier than thou people then? What he said does not mean that white people are wrong and non-whites are right but that there is still progress to be made in this country and anyone who disagrees with that is either living in a bubble or is being completely dishonest.

To all of those who have an issue with the use of the colors red, brown and yellow (although no one seemed to have a problem with the color BLACK …), these were the terms used during his primetime (the 1960’s) and not in a negative light. My grandfather (who was black) referred to black people as “coloreds” until the day he died because that was the term that grew up with and it was not an insult to him. Black, red, yellow, brown, etc. are positive terms from the 1960’s and 1970’s just as today we say African-American, Asian-American, Native American, Latino or Latino American, etc.

I should not really be analyzing the statement because these sorts of “sayings” are not made for analysis but it is meant to motivate people at that moment to do something positive. Anyone on this board who does not undestand this either was not around during the civil rights movements in the 1950’s and 1960’s, or their parents did not support the movements (which was the case for the majority of America until JFK was assassinated), or did not study it.

Until you learn more about the history of the civil rights movement in America and Rev. Lowery (don’t pretend to know anything about Dr. King if you do not know Rev. Lowery) you should reserve your criticism.

Posted by Denise | Report as abusive

Although disappointed, I was encouraged to see President Obama’s smile diminish at the reading of the “white” comment. And I’m what you’d probably refer to as a “southern white redneck”.

Posted by Stacy | Report as abusive

Someone is using that boy for something. A pole turtle I tell you.

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

Granted the reverend is from an era when the terms he used were common, perhaps not acceptable, but common. However, the speech he gave was not IN that time, it’s now and now those terms are NOT acceptable. I personally am offended by what he said. I’m appalled that Obama’s people either (1) didn’t approve his speech prior to him giving it or (2) felt that what he said was acceptable. I for one am dreading the next four years giving the racisim we’ve seen in the first couple of hours of office.

Posted by Michelle | Report as abusive

“when whites embrace what’s right”. The whites just elected an African American president. This was just another putdown, period.

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive

There seems to be a persistent myth that all white people are would-be slavemasters if they just had the chance to ‘turn back the clock’- I am deeply offended by this, which seems to be regurgitated by those who would profit from continually reopening these wounds.
It should be obvious that there is a legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws in the Southern territories of the USA in the past. The northern territories were not of this legacy, in fact much blood was spilled to destroy, in all areas of our influence, what had been a well established worldwide institution- unfortunately, in other areas of the world including Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Asia, this is still a quiet continuation of this practice in one form or another. Let’s direct our attention and outrage there-

Posted by gp | Report as abusive

I think it would be interesting to see what the outcry would have been had this been reversed and it were a comment about the day when “black would embrace what is right”… wonder what the media and others would be saying then??? Shouldn’t all be equal, and not have to walk on eggshells for either side??

Posted by E | Report as abusive

I was around during the civil rights era. And I don’t need to be told to sit down and shut up by some hypocritical, race baiting “reverend” who couldn’t carry water to the people that built this country.

Posted by George | Report as abusive

It’s funny to see the comments. The people on the left think it has nothing to do with race at all. They are so blinded because they drank the Obama kool aide and nothing Obama or anyone around Obama could ever say anything wrong.

Does this remind you of Obmama’s old Rev? You know the White KKK of America comment! Follows a pattern doesn’t it! I was ok with his Speech and most of the Rev prayer, but when I heard that part I stopped and thought on all days you had to make this comment. He should have just not said anything that could be miss construed as racists.

Posted by J | Report as abusive

We all know that PEOPLE, of any race, that make statements like reverend Joseph Lowery made, are RACIST.

As a first time democratic voter, I hope I don’t regret voting for Barack based on the racism I’ve seen in the first couple of hours of office.

Racism from anyone is wrong!

I pray the reverend will embrace what is right!

Posted by ds | Report as abusive

Sheesh – maybe it’s b/c I’ve been down in Atlanta for almost 6 years, but I thought it was a cute phrase. As a white American, I didn’t take offense. I also looked at his age and figured he was referring to all the progress that has been made since he started his crusade 50 years ago! That and I figured I would give him the benefit of the doubt that I would give my own grandfather. I thought his was one of the better ‘speeches’ of the day – maybe second only to Obama’s. I did come looking online to see reactions to that phrase, but seriously people, all I have seen are extreme over reactions! Calm down, take a deep breath, and savor the notion that a mixed black and white man was elected president of the United States. It wasn’t all that long ago when his very existence would have caused great consternation among both whites AND blacks.

Posted by Angie | Report as abusive

I voted for Obama and I am very happy about my vote.
But I think Mr. Lowery’s poem was insulting and I believe if he was white, it would be considered a racist remark.
It is time to drop those comments about any color and I do believe it should be addressed as a very unacceptable poem by Obama. For a remark on a national stage I believe Mr. Lowery’s poem made him look silly.

Posted by claire dodd | Report as abusive

I understand that Lowery did great things with Martin Luther King Jr. However that was in the 60’s. Our country needed that speech in the 60’s and 70’s but it does not fit with today. Being that Lowery is nearly 90 years old I understand that he is still living life as if it were 1962, however it is now 2009 and a half black and half white man is elected president. That does show that our county is moving forward on racism. Racism is still here, it will always be here because we are all different and it is not just about black and white issue.

Racism is defined as:
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

I think his speech would have been great in the 60’s however today black people are not asked to sit in the back, red people own several businesses, OK so yellow people could mellow out a bit, but white people could embrace what is right? I must not get it because what is right does not mean a half black half white man is President of the U.S. but what this person will do for our country should be what is right. I understand that the intent of this comment was not that whites were wrong and non whites were right, but white people are not the only people who are racists in our country. Some authentic restaurants will only hire their race. What about the Miss Black America Pageant.

Give Obama a chance to help this country without putting racism back in the mix. Let this man fix the economy, healthcare issues, the war in Iraq, at the same time let him protect our country from people who want to destroy it and us living in it.

Yes it was true that some white people said they would not vote for Obama because he was black but how many black people only voted for him because he was half black? How many black people never voted before until this election? You should not vote for a person because of the color of their skin, vote for them because you believe they are the best candidate. I believe Obama will help our economy. That is the reason I voted for him. I did not vote for him because of his race, he convinced me that he would better the economy.

Americans lets better this economy and protect our country together and put racism aside. God Bless America!

Posted by Natasha | Report as abusive

This rev. is a joke. Bringing “old time’n religion” shucking’ and jiving’ prayers to an inaugural for the President of the United States is stupid. It’s about as preposterous as having the Pope dance a jig while watching a Notre Dame Football game in his underwear. There is a time and place for everything, this wasn’t the time or place for crazy rhetoric like that. Obama looks stupid for having that old man pull a stunt like that. What has this country come to? What a joke. :(

Posted by Mo in ER | Report as abusive

Now, since I have used the same tactics as Mr. Lowery, I am going to apologize for the racial comment about shining shoes. Racial comments hurt. We have come a long way to get away from them and we should keep on trying. I again am apologizing for my comments that offended, something I am sure Lowery would never do. By the way, I don’t want anyone to forget what happened, remember it, learn from it, and move forward.

Posted by Tammie | Report as abusive

Lowery really shows his color and era he came from. I’m sure the blacks in the audience loved it (laughter) and the race card continues and is only worse now(after reading forums throughout the internet. You will never hear the liberal drive-by networks make comments about this but the real issue of what the majority of White Americans feel about this racial slur stands out in these forums. Had Bush had his reverend make a speech like that (race reversal) there would’ve been riots and investigations by multiple black groups including an NAACP investigation.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

As a white person who has tried to do the right thing for the last sixty seven years I was extremely hurt by Lowery’s comments about “whites embracing what is right.”
My hurt has turned to anger and wonder how Lowery assumes that white people only embrace what is wrong.

And also found his prayer the “blacks not be asked to give back” totally different from Obama’s call for all of us to be responsible or does Obama not include blacks in the call for responsibility and Lowery just did not hear it.

Posted by mindy rodriguez | Report as abusive

I can’t help but giggle at how “sensitive” a few whites were to the Reverends little rhyming scheme. Get over yourselves! There was nothing heavy-handed in the Rev’s remarks. Embrace what was right.

Posted by Brett Remington | Report as abusive

It was the day after MLK’s birthday. We inaugurated our first AA president. Rev. Lowery’s benediction was both light-hearted and serious. I loved his Amens at the end, he was calling for the crowd to join in. Saying “white could be right” was not a put-down, it was simply a statement, considering the life of this 90-something civil rights veteran.

Posted by Bill X | Report as abusive

People like Rev Lowrey do more to keep racism alive than all the neo nazis and clan members in the world. He holds himself out as an advocate of equality and unity yet he reserves his right to make racist divisive remarks. You say he was just joking? I remember last year when Michael Richards (Cosmo Cramer) was just joking during a standup routine. That was all you hear about in the news. I have only seen this reported a few times in the media. The press is free though…., of a spine. I understand they dont want to say anything critical of the first black president, people might say they are racist!

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

he is still living in 1962. his statement implies that white people must change to embrace right. that is a racist statement against the Caucasian race.

Posted by bill desmond | Report as abusive

I agree as a mixed race AMERICAN I was frankly let down. I have Olive skin and am most often associated by other races as white. It was a racist comment and age does not play a factor. You don’t forgive the 60 year old white guy because thats how it was in his day. We are not all EQUAL until our comments are all treated EQUAL. You should not be made to feel bad or just have to take the jab because the color of your skin is WHITE. It was shamefull.

Posted by Tina | Report as abusive

Personally, I was offended by the last rhyme “…when white will embrace what is right.” What is all this about racial harmony and then a closing comment of this type?? Obviously many “whites” embraced Obama. And many of every race and creed embrace “the right” everyday. What a pathetic jab as the closing note of an otherwise awesome day. Reverend Lowery, did your comment make you feel justified and righteous.

Posted by KATHIE | Report as abusive

After having read the posts here, it would seem that a lot of folks are upset with Rev. Lowery’s comments and see them as racist. I was brought up to respect regardless of race and color. I am a full supporter of Dr. King’s idea of judging not on color of skin, but content of character. My father, in his own way and time, was a civil rights pioneer in his world.
So why do African-Americans, embracing King’s legacy, continue to use color to judge? Black, yellow, white, red and brown are colors, not races. And why are white people not allowed to judge by color , but it’s OK for African-Americans to do so? Why is there a double standard in play here?
The faster we drop color as a bar by which we judge by, the quicker race relations can advance. If all are not in agreement, then we have not achieved anything nor will we. It’s time we looked upon ourselves as Americans, not red people, Indian-Americans, not white people, Caucasian-Americans, etc.

Posted by Joe the Plumber’s other brother Joe | Report as abusive

Concerning obama, I have never seen such a racist following from the likes of him and this lowery fellow of his. I live in a small city and never experience such racial overtones as obama’s supporters in and around his chicago area and points in between. I have very close friends who are black and share a common love and friendship with them and enjoy their company very much and I don’t hear nor experience the feelings that obama’s world gives off. The world of obama seems very dark, dismal followed by hatred for America, whites, etc. and I just don’t get it. This is why I didn’t vote for him. If he continues supporting his racial movement who knows what the outcome will be and surely not for the common good that he claims. Big time bigotry is what I see coming from his world……

Posted by Gerry | Report as abusive

Lighten up people. The US has a long and storied history of racism. It seems every immigrant class has been a target of that bigotry for a time. Of course, this attitude was encouraged in the subjugation of the Native American population through the implementation of “Manifest Dentiny”.

Racism lies just below the surface of the American psyche and is utilized by those in power to manipulate the population’s beliefs. Unfortunately, the latest target of this technique are Arab-Americans and Muslems in general.

Wake up people….your being played. Seek to recognize the racist attitudes in yourselves and work to eliminate them. It is these attitudes that Reverend Lowery was addressing with his rhyme.

Posted by brisa | Report as abusive

President Obama needs to distance himself from this extremely racist statement. What if a white reverend said “And Blacks won’t embrace crack”. Remember this Mr. Obama : A whole lot of “crackers” voted for you.

Posted by Pat | Report as abusive

To the Perpetually Offended & Permanently P***ed-Off: Get a grip. Unless you bristle with feigned indignation each and every time you hear something that offends your delicate sensibilities, your “wah-wah-wah” is misplaced here: Yes, methinks thou doest protest too much.

Back when your Gramps used the en-word, or your aunt made an ignorant blanket statement about folks different from her, or when a coworker told that really funny joke that made you uncomfortable, where was your indignation then?

(…and anybody who claims they’ve *never* stayed silent rather than get into an argument over syntax or stereotypes or ignorance is a liar, because we’ve all been guilty of it. Except maybe my *True Grit* / “it’s the principle of the thing” friend, Helen, and I’m the one who can still stand to be around *her*…)

Besides, haven’t we all been reminded a buhzillion times that Obama is half white? So if Lowery was speaking to “all whites,” he must’ve been speaking to Obama, too.

This should bring you immense comfort and joy. Rather than turn a mighty surplus into a mindbending deficit, or go to war to (…defeat the country responsible for 9/11? Naw, to)…bring democracy to Iraq), perhaps Obama will remember the words, white ain’t always right. ;o

Posted by Katie Newmann | Report as abusive

OK…so Mr. Lowery can say anything that he wants in front of the entire world and offend white people everywhere but I post my opinions on a blog and it is entirely removed. Old man Lowery insults white people everywhere and his statements are posted in this website but I intentionally insult him to prove a point and my post is removed. Good job way to be fair. By the way I even apologized! Go freedom of speech!

Posted by Tammie | Report as abusive

“People like Rev Lowrey do more to keep racism alive than all the neo nazis and clan members in the world.”

Well, that’s reasonable.

What’s wrong with a light-hearted reference to a Civil Rights song, from someone who marched with Martin Luther King, on a day that a black president was sworn into office? If you look at the original song, there’s no suggestion that ’embracing what is right’ has a specific racial meaning – it just means behaving justly. It is ludicrous to call it an accusation of racism. In any case, all reference to race was confined to a joke at the ending of the prayer. From someone whose whole career was devoted to fighting racial injustices, isn’t that rather special?

Posted by Oliver | Report as abusive

it is not that white people are “sensitive” to lowery’s comments; it is that white people relate to the comment “God our weary years.” Whites understand the word “weary” as we are weary of working hard and having our taxes go for welfare and then getting slapped in the face for our caring and hard work. Thought Obama was president of all Americans but guess it’s back to business as usual with people like Rev Lowery

Posted by mindy rodriguez | Report as abusive

I found the Lowery remarks to be light and enlightening. They were perfect and even evoked a smile from the president. This election cycle has shown the world the strength that is America.

Posted by MiketheWaiter | Report as abusive

The day was bright, and the mood was light – It was no time to attack black versus white. – All races came together to put Obama in D.C. – Now there ain’t no white guilt left in me. – Lowery is still stuck in the past – Let’s hope old Lowery’s racism won’t last – My name is White Chedda’ – He should’a known betta’ – To whites and blacks – lets stop these attacks

Posted by Norman | Report as abusive

Prehaps the good Reverend should travel to Africa and lecture their leaders about the treatment of tribal minorities, civil war, the treatment of women and corruption. Africa is such an example of fairness and honest government i.e. Nigeria, Somali, etc

Posted by Bob Gaul | Report as abusive

I keep hearing that “it was a joke”.
Where’s your sense of humor?
Here’s a joke that I like.

“If it’s yellow, let it mellow”
If it’s brown, flush it down”


How funny is that?

Posted by Dave Viterna | Report as abusive

What the Rev. was paraphrasing:


Sometimes you gotta talk about a problem to get past it.


Posted by MGE | Report as abusive

Listening to him speak at the Inauguration brings to mind the scene from the movie “Alien” where the crew members are waking up from years of sleep in suspended animation. Did he miss the last forty years?

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! From a 46 y.o. white male – GOBama

Posted by meme | Report as abusive

As a white southern female, and all that that implies, I am not offended by Lowery’s words.

Don’t presume to speak for all white people when you say: “Old man Lowery insults white people everywhere…” He has only insulted those who are dense and lack comprehension skills, and those who hope to stir the pot.

For the majority of us whites, and by that I mean the majority of whites with common sense and intelligence who voted for Obama, we are not Standard-Issue Bigots with big old chips on our shoulder, eager to take offense where none is directed at us.

And I didn’t take offense at anything the “old man” who’s spent time in jail, with bandages on his head, had to say, since he wasn’t talking to me. But he must’ve spoken loudly to some of YOU, because everybody knows a hit dogs always yelps loudest…

Posted by Lydia Pepper | Report as abusive

And East Asian folks, as usual, will let the insult roll off their backs, and suffer continued racism in silence, as they always do.

Posted by Lawrence | Report as abusive

Foul! His remark was racsist. So much for a new beginning and CHANGE! Good-luck to all the Obots that bought in to this massive lie.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

Lowrey’s appearance at the inauguration was an embarrassment and a disgrace.

Posted by David Cavall | Report as abusive

I can’t decide if the comment was racist or not. I do, however, believe it was inappropriate.

Posted by Tami | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, it appears that racism is more than alive & well in America and it’s so sad. On a day when we were embracing each other as equals, we were again shown our differences. This not a joke and it makes me wonder how many more friends President Obama has that hold these racist views? I don’t mind – everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, I do mind them being given a platform to create more hate.

“If you got some white friends, they be clappin’ like this, y’all…”

Posted by Lovern | Report as abusive

It is amazing how the media has swept this racist’s comments under the rug and refuses to comment on them. If a white person made any comment about blacks or if Warren made a comment about gays they would have been crucified in the media.

I voted for Obama as I thought we needed change but now I am sorry I ever voted for him. To smile and nod in agreement to a racist remark such as Lowery’s is absolutely wrong. I can only wait for four years and hope we have a country left when it comes time to vote again. I for one will not vote for the coronation of Obama again.

In the end it is comments like Lowery’s which will drive a wedge between blacks and whites which will drive more whites to organizations which are racist. The double standard in this country must end before racism will ever end.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

This was a very racist comment towards white people. 400 hundred years you say? Your own people sold you into slavery….My bad for what somebody did over here to your great great grand but it wasn’t me and it wasn’t you. Colleges give black people extra points when the mark their race on entrance aplications….simply for their race!!! There is a minimum quota for black people at every job. African American????? Were you born in Africa? Have you been there one bathroom for 50 people? If you were born there and became a US citizen then you had to go through the natrulization process declaring allegiance to this country and disowning your old country. So its just AMERICAN!!!!! Obama was raised by his white mother and white grandmother because his black father stepped out. He should apologize if only for his mother and grand mother.

Posted by LAW | Report as abusive

Even if Lowery’s words were divisive, you can choose unity. You don’t have to march to that beat. Just roll your eyes at another racist old man and get on with it.

Posted by Alice | Report as abusive

Calm down and be rational….

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around … when yellow will be mellow ……

Posted by Not really Alice | Report as abusive

You know, those last lines that rhymed are actually from an old blues song by Big Bill Broonzy. It’s important to know a little history before we go name-calling and getting offended, eh?

Posted by college student | Report as abusive

My Country

For those who are angry about the Inaugural prayer Rev. Lowery prayed, please forgive him. He’s an old warrior, and it may be quite difficult for him to let go of the hurt from the past. One must understand the struggles of a people from so long ago. I would like to thank; whites, reds, yellows and browns, who have stood by us as African Americans to finally make it to some point in history were we can finally say maybe, just maybe we have almost arrived at the “mountain top”. It’s been a long hard struggle! I don’t want to say only if you’re “black” you understood what he prayed the HURT and the HUMOR. I do believe others who aren’t African American understood as well. I do believe he didn’t mean any harm.

If I may share some of my family’s history to help some understand why some of our elders speak the way they do. My father and mother were married for almost 60 years, raised 10 children in the ghetto and helped 7 of those children through college. My father fought in 3 wars: WWII, Korean, and the beginning of Vietnam. He was always trying to prove himself as an American. While on leave he would go home to visit his mother in Mississippi and some would spit on him in his uniform, shouting at him to take off that uniform you black (n word). Yet he jumped ships when being bombed, watched his buddies killed in war, hide in fox holes fighting the enemy, kicked by some white officers and called the (n word)when he thought he had found a quiet place to kneel and pray on ship(only 17, he said he was scared the first time they were attacked by the Japanese and all had to jump ship)…..and being left to walk alone on a dark rode after a car drives up and pick up all the soldiers, he reaches for the door to get in and the car drive off. He heard the driver say, “ I don’t drive no ( n word) “, so he continued walking alone. He told me that hurt, and that driver didn’t see me as an American! With tears at times he would tell us this is “OUR COUNTRY” treat others with respect and “IT DIDN’T MATTER THE COLOR.”

He never wanted us to deal with what he had gone through. He was always trying to prove himself as an American always! All my life because of my father it’s been God, family and county. My country, my America. When Rev. Lowery gave the prayer, when he said “Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest.”, I thought of my father, who would have loved to see this day. I shared my father’s history not to lay blame or point fingers.. But to say thank you America ( whites, reds, yellows, browns, and yes African Americans) for coming together this day and saying we are ONE COUNTRY, and we can stand together as ONE RACE OF PEOPLE.. As the Apostle John would say, “let us love one another little children.” My father taught all of his children and grandchildren to “LOVE ALL PEOPLE”.. He never past on the hate to us that others pushed at him for years!! He would only cry his pain to my mother the hurt he suffered… She finally let us know this intimate moment between the two of them after his death. In memory of my beloved father (I miss you daddy) he died Veteran’s Day 2005.

Posted by My Country | Report as abusive