DETROIT - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the outspoken former pastor of Barack Obama, told an audience of nearly 10,000 yesterday that despite what his critics say, he is "descriptive," not "divisive," when he speaks about racial injustices.
"I describe the conditions in this country," Mr. Wright said during the Detroit NAACP's 53rd annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.
"I'm not here for political reasons. I'm not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seemed like I am running for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office. I've been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet."
Mr. Obama distanced himself from Mr. Wright after publicity over the minister's sharp criticism of America's racial history and government policies.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said before the dinner that he was excited to invite the "hottest brother in America right now."
"It just presented an opportunity for us to be able to set the record straight outside of any political consideration," Mr. Anthony said.
"Our nation is at a crossroads. Within our nation there are things we don't want to acknowledge. We have a hard time with the truth."
Mr. Wright is stepping down as pastor of the 6,000-member Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
In Dallas yesterday morning, Mr. Wright gave a 45-minute sermon that included a reference to his "public crucifixion" for past comments from the pulpit, The Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site.
Mr. Wright also received a standing ovation from the 4,000 worshipers at Friendship-West Baptist Church.
He wove a gospel message with commentary about social justice, telling congregants to lean on God while standing up for themselves.
Mr. Wright became an issue in the presidential race in March after the circulation of videos of old sermons in which he accused the U.S. government of racism and accused it of flooding black neighborhoods with drugs.42.33168 -83.04792