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Associated Press – March 26, 2008
DALLAS – The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, presidential candidate Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor, canceled plans Wednesday to receive an award at a summit on black churches.
The Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth announced on its Web site that Wright will not attend the State of the Black Church Summit and awards banquet in Dallas. The school was planning to present Wright with an award Saturday.
Wright has also canceled plans to speak at three services in a Houston church Sunday. He canceled plans Tuesday to speak at a church in Tampa, Fla.
In a speech last week, Obama sharply condemned Wright’s remarks damning America for its treatment of minorities and saying the U.S. government invented AIDS to destroy black people.
The Rev. Marcus Cosby, pastor at Houston’s Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, told Houston television station KTRK and the Houston Chronicle that safety concerns had prompted Wright’s decision.
Cosby told the Chronicle that Wright cited three reasons for canceling: “the safety of the institution to which he has been invited; the safety of his family, which has been placed in harm’s way; and for his own safety.”
Wright also canceled his appearance Tuesday in Florida at a Tampa-area church. The hosting church said it asked Wright to cancel his scheduled three-day appearance because of security questions.
Joan Harrell, minister of communications for Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Wright was pastor for nearly four decades, didn’t immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Videos of remarks Wright has made have been circulating widely on the Internet and news programs. Wright’s sermons to his predominantly black congregation have included him shouting “God damn America” for its treatment of minorities. He has said the U.S. government invented AIDS to destroy “people of color” and has also suggested that U.S. policies in the Middle East and elsewhere were partly responsible for the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
“I think we have taken Dr. Wright out of context with sound bites,” Cosby said. “After all these years, I am not going to kick him to the curb over sound bites.”
In a speech last week, Obama sharply condemned Wright’s remarks and the preacher’s refusal to acknowledge progress in race relations. But the Illinois senator refused to repudiate Wright.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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