Lowery’s Benediction

The Benediction for Obama’s Inauguration was performed by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a stalwart of the civil rights movement and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The was little talk of this in the weeks leading up to the Inauguration because the MSM was too busy attacking the choice of Pastor Rick Warren as the celebrant for the Invocation.

Here’s the transcript of Rev. Lowery’s benediction:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

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.

And as we leave this mountaintop, 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.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

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 back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

Pretty much what had to be expected of Rev. Lowery. His benediction was straight out of the core principles of Black Liberation Theology. From Rev. Lowery I can accept that, if not agree with it in any fashion whatsoever. He’s more than earned the right to voice his opinion on the national stage.

At least he had the decency and good taste not to reference Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!

Tags: | | | | | |

14 Responses to “Lowery’s Benediction”

  1. Christian Mendelsohn Says:

    It made me chuckle in the face of seriousness. Spiced with equal parts of humor, compassion, and sincerity. Hopefully we can all move forward my brothers, and sisters of the human race. Today, January 20th, 2009 brought us closer together than we have ever been. May we continue to be inspired, and focused.
    Thank you Mr. Obama and Rev. Lowery.

    I loved it so much, I made it into a t-shirt: (NON PROFIT INTENTIONS)

  2. jonolan Says:

    Well, I suppose I’m glad you like it. It rather left me cold and unimpressed, but I don’t particularly care for either Racism or Socialism.

  3. Prudie Says:

    Cold? Frigid.

    It scared me. The whole part about white embracing what is right absolutely terrified me. I’m hoping that it’s not a sign of thought crime or hate crime legislation to come.

    Though, I do think that it’s a clear sign of Obama’s racist leanings toward white people.

  4. fava Says:

    As far as I am concerned Rev. Lowery upstaged the President with his solemn, world-weary, and poetic delivery touched by the sweet humor and irony known only to those who have suffered long and hard. My highest kudos to him and to those who selected him. The benediction was deeply meaningful to this mother of an interracial child.

  5. jonolan Says:


    As I said, I believe Rev. Lower has more than earned the right to say just about anything he wants; he survived the truly horrid years of the Civil Rights movement.

    That being said, his benediction was about what I expected from him and not one I particularly liked. The mix of Socialism and Racial recriminations wasn’t to my tastes, though it wasn’t near as bad as it could have been.


    Then I’m happy for you. He did upstage Obama somewhat. The Inaugural Address wasn’t one of Obama’s better speeches, and Lowery’s benediction was better delivered.

  6. JC Lamont Says:

    Yea, that last comment does seem a bit scary.

  7. jonolan Says:

    Care to expand on that, JC? I’m unsure if you’re referring to Lowery’s ending of his benediction. the end of the post itself, or one of the comments in this thread.

    I’m afraid I’m a bit tired and my brain isn’t making the interpretive leaps it might normally be capable of. 😉

  8. in2thefray Says:

    great post Jonolan. couldn’t agree more with you on the BLT piece.spot on

  9. jonolan Says:

    Thank you, in2thefray. I’m glad you liked it.

    Things have gotten a might strange in the US, but not in a way that any student of history couldn’t have – and did – predict.

  10. Half-breed "White" Hillbillly Boy Says:

    Statements that villify ‘whites’ as a class of people do not promote diversity, and are NOT good PR.

    Take out the ‘white=evil’ message created by the implication that ‘whites continue to embrace wrong’ resulting from the phrase “when white will embrace what is right” and you’ve got a totally different rhetoric.

    The fact that it is poetic form, and not simply some off-the-cuff comment tossed in shows that, this speaker gave considerable thought to making this statement and to precisely how it was crafted. In short, the message that ‘white=evil’ is in my view not a coincidental one but a quite intentional one.

    There are definitely racist people in America, and people who, whether they are conscious of it or not, suffer from a variety of biased or prejudicial thinking. I hypothesize that one’s so-called ‘racial identity’ exhibits virtually zero association with their degree of racism or other forms of social-identity bias.

    Indeed, I am afraid to say that, because of the continuation of resentful, and vindictive if not hateful philosophies of racial conflict (e.g., Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan) and the insinuation, if not mainstreamization of ideas from these philosophies into everyday contemporary American culture (particularly African American pop cultures), the degree of association between ‘race’ and ‘racism’ seems to be as likely to be associated with ‘black’ identity as it is with ‘white’ identity.

    A lot of us ‘whites’ already embraced what is ‘right’ in our view, and we are alienated, and indeed disappointed when African American rhetoric falses attributes us with bias, racism or ‘wrong’ simply because we are ‘white’ in their eyes.

    Or perhaps some of these folks think they know our minds, our behavior, and our lifes better than we know our own, simply because they are ‘black’ and they got us ‘whites’ all figured out? Now if that is not a reversal of bias portraying itself as the correction/removal of bias, I don’t know what is.

    I voted for the man, I have high hopes that he will do a lot of good, and I would LIKE to believe in him. But if this is the sort of thing that will be tolerated in Obamaland I cannot say I am impressed whatsoever. I guess I should not be surprised given his 20 years in Wright’s church.

    Implying that all whities are racists is simply not implying something that is likely to be empirically true, much less socially progressive and useful.

    In all honesty, it offends me when someone just calls me WHITE, much less that they infer that I am a racist based on their perception of my belonging in some particular social category that they erroneously and ignorantly think is validly labeled ‘race.’

    I am of mixed ancestry, and I am from a disadvantaged background; I would say at least as disadvantaged as our ‘black’ President. But by virtue of labeling me white and him black, I am automatically placed stereotypically into a historically dominant, more powerful, oppressive social group, which I would tell is simply not the case.

    I look down at my arm . . . I see no white here! Beige, tan, pink, even some greenish in the veins . . . “WHITE” is simply a useless term, just as is “BLACK” “YELLOW” “RED,” and all the other nonsensical terms to divide humanity into racial clumps.

    We should be working to ELIMINATE these concepts from our minds, and from life on Earth. We are all HUMANS, PEOPLE, PERSONS, FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES, NEIGHBORS, etc. When we automatically think of one another, talk to one another, and refer to one another with these non-segmentary conceptions of joint membership instead of those tired and frankly evil racial typologies, THEN we will be making real progress toward the world that Dr. King and others dreamed about.

    I have no doubt that Lowery was a hero in his day, and fought the good fight for Civil Rights. But the Civil Rights movement is over, we are in a new phase of the evolution of true liberty and equality in our society, and to burden ourselves with unnecessary references, and false attributions to past divisions among us is simply not helpful.

    Very bad idea to have Lowery give your benediction Bama, or at least very bad idea not to have a look over his speech before you let him say it. But then, you did smile when he said it, so maybe you agree with the idea that you and I really are different because you are ‘black’ and I am ‘white’ and that those labels really do adequately describe our life experiences, our views, and our predispositions.

    Given your membership in Wright’s church for so long, I really do fear that this is what you believe, and I fear for what this means for our nation and the world, not to mention for your safety and well-being.

    Honestly, I think all the hoopla about Obama has made me just a tad bit depressed. No joke; while all you people have been having the time of your life cheering and shouting, and passing through waves of ideo-politic-ecstascy, I have been progressively cringing more tightly and worriedly with each CNN video and each blogosphere scan I endure.

    It is so discouraging to be so poignantly reminded of how simple, emotive, and pliable people are. I’m not saying he is ‘the Anti-Christ,’ but I would like to point out that: the cult of personality which has steadily grown, and most recently erupted into Krakatoa proportions is disturbingly similar in some basic social psychological dimensions to those which surrounded some very sketchy past leaders. For example, Hitler and Mussolini . . . yes, yes I know, ‘good guys’ have also had massive cult followings too (JFK comes to mind, but beyond that . . . hmmmm, can’t actually think of any others) . . . but there is just something that is honestly [to me] rather creepy about how people feel about Obama.

    He strikes me as a very smart, very capable, respectful and thoughtful man who will surround himself with people who are highly knowledgeable in their chosen disciplines. I also do not doubt that he really is a visionary with an inspired mission to ‘make the world better,’ who has an incredible charismatic ability to inspire people that whatever the specifics of that ‘mission,’ they believe in it, and are devoted to it.

    With the exception of every single one of those descriptors except respectful and to a certain degree thoughtful, you could use the paragraph above to describe Adolf Hilter. He was very smart, very capable, ‘thoughtful’ depending on exactly how you want to deploy that word. He surrounded himself with people who are highly knowledgeable, and he clearly was a real visionary with an inspired mission to ‘make the world better,’ and who had an incredible charismatic ability to inspire people that whatever the specifics of that mission, they believed in it, and were devoted to it.

    I am NOT saying that Barack Obama is the latest incarnation of a genocidal maniac despot who is going to usher in a period of massive bloodshed, suffering and catastrophe. I am simply pointing out that, many of the dynamics of a Great Leader with the capacity to inspire people are not mutually exclusive with megalomania, prejudice, vindictiveness, even callous inhumanity and hatred.

    I guess if he had been in the Senate for 20 years, and we had more of a history of how he actually thinks and feels, how he tends to vote, and what he really believes in, I might feel differently.

    But we don’t have that. What we have is a past that is hard to pin down with any particular term except ‘ambitious, tending to be liberal, populist, litigiously-competent and eloquent.’

    How many times is it that he voted ‘Present’ during his legislative days?

    Add to this the whole Rev Wright connection, some comments he has made during his campaign, his response to the Lowery benediction . . .

    ‘Uneasiness’ sincerely describes how I feel about this man at this point, and I am DEFINITELY not a ‘conservative.’ I am pro-Gay Marriage, I voted for Clinton, Gore, and Obama, and I tend to think that socialized medicine is a good thing.

    Understand, I am not saying that I am dead-set against Obama; I am not firmly convinced that he is malignant force, and I am not [yet] opposed to him . . . but just uneasy, a bit wary, and very much skeptical.

    This latest incident with Lowery’s Benediction is IMO, just the latest “blip” in a series of blips that indicate a kind of megalomaniacal elitism and vindictiveness as a person of color. Perhaps we are on blip #11 or 12, but we are not yet on blip #20.

    Barack Obama still “IS MY PRESIDENT.” I voted for him. I hope for the best for him, and for us; and I very, VERY much _WANT_ to believe in him, and place my trust in him that he will always do what is right for the greater good of America and the world. After 8 years of Bushes general incomptence, bullheaded stubbornness and arrogance someone who really had the characteristics of diplomacy and skill which Obama seems to have would be a refreshing change.

    But when I see repeated instances of his complicity if not agreement with what I consider to be racist views of Black-White relations in the U.S., I get very uneasy . . . VERY uneasy, and I am reminded of just how inspiring Adolf Hitler was to the German people.

    In the present PC climate, in which reversal of bias is all too often portrayed as ‘leveling’ or ‘righting wrongs’ or as reforming bias, I am planning to keep my head down . . .

    Stop and consider this: If McCain had won, and they got some aging born-again preacher from a holdout racially segregated white privilege district of the South. Say for example, a Jerry Falwell type of caricature.

    What if, during his benediction, this joker gave some poetry something about like this . . .

    Would you think that that was equally as ‘trivial?’

    Or how about this, leave everything the same as in Lowery’s original transcript

    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 … when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.[quote]

    But just change “when white will embrace what is right” to “when non-whites will embrace what is right.”

    Would THAT be trivial?

    No it would NOT be trivial, and neither is implying that “whites embrace what is wrong!!”

  11. trey20 Says:

    That prayer (if you want to call it that) was the worst display of reverse racism I have seen. I think it is OK to be proud of a black man to work hard and become President, but to say that the black man has to “get back” and the brown can’t “stick around”, don’t even know what he means about yellow being mellow and the red to “get ahead”. Then to say that the white man doesn’t know what is right. Give me a break. If this election showed one thing it is that this country has gotten over all that crap and the black man isn’t in back anymore.
    I think the worst thing that he said was that we have sown the seed of greed… and all of that crap. He makes it sound like Bush meant for all of this to happen on purpose. I can’t believe he calls himself a reverand. He sure doesn’t seem to be a Christian in my book.

  12. trey20 Says:

    Very well said half breed. Even though I don’t totally agree with you politically, I do agree with you on all your points about the race issue. I too wish Obama the best.

  13. JC Lamont Says:

    Sorry, for the confusion. I was referencing Prudie’s comment. The Whites get it right thing.

    Northern whites fought for slaves freedom. Many whites just elected an africian american president. We have shown we can do what is right. It’s not just white-people who have to get over black-racism (as most of us have). Now it’s black people who have to get over white-racism.

    I was attending a synogogue for awhile (Messianic) and a Jewish women/holocaust survivor spoke about her return trip to Germany. While there she spoke to a group of people, many of whom were ex-Nazi soldeirs. It was very hard for her, but she said, despite witnessing her sister murdered and other atrocities, that she forgave them. A man got up and admitted be a guard in the same concentration camp she was in, and asked if she would forgive him personally. It took her a couple minutes, but she said yes, i forgive you. Many of the germans there that night became Christians becuase of this.

    When the people in the synogogue with me heard that last part, they all started cheering, which blew me away. Such genuine forgiveness for a group of people that so opressed your own is astonishing, and also very hard. I was very impressed. Some people actually fully grasp the meaning of “love your enemies, pray for them that persecute you.” I know I haven’t. It goes against everything naturally in me. But I’m trying.

  14. jonolan Says:

    Yes, I would say that when it comes to racism the only “Change” we can expect from our new administration is a change in the focus of what is vilified and what is condoned or even extolled.

    It’s a sad morning of the new day for America, and where the sun may set amid blood and tears.

Leave a Reply