The Rev. Jeremiah Wright — pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago for a congregation once attended by President Barack Obama prior to his first election — comes to Fresno State for an African Peoples’ History Month presentation at 6 p.m. Monday, March 2.

The free, public event in North Gym, Room 118, which wraps up the month-long observance organized by the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute and other groups, will feature a dialogue format with Dr. T. Hasan Johnson, professor in Fresno State’s Africana Studies Program.

Wright’s visit is part of the Black Popular Culture Lecture Series that Johnson teaches for the program and is co-sponsored by Fresno State Associated Students, Inc. and the Black Faculty and Staff Association.

The presentation will be a one-on-one interview on stage by Johnson about his life, his struggles and his world view.

“I want students to understand that people of integrity who have dedicated themselves to helping people are seldom made in a 15-minutes-of-fame fashion,” Johnson said. “They are developed over years of intense struggle and challenge.”

Wright performed the marriage ceremony of Obama and First Lady Michelle, baptized their two daughters and is credited by Obama for the title of his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”

Wright was in the national spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign when critics tied candidate Obama to controversial remarks by the pastor that led to Obama’s speech, “A More Perfect Union,” to explain and contextualize Wright’s controversial comments. He closed with a plea to move beyond America’s “racial stalemate” and address shared social problems.

Wright is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who now spends his time preaching, teaching and leading study tours to Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. A theological scholar, he specializes in black sacred music, ethnomusicology and African Diasporan studies.

As a result of Wright’s commitment to higher education, his ministry has provided scholarships for graduating high school seniors since 1977.

He has also led his congregation in developing HIV/AIDS outreach programs, two senior housing complexes, a federally funded childcare program for low-income families and the church’s newly formed Kwame Nkrumah Academy to serve students in Chicago.

Other events this week include Donna Brazile speaking at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 in the North Gym, Room 118, and the Rosa Parks Awards and Africana Culture Night will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 in the Satellite Student Union.

A reception for the Black Agitprop Art Exhibit showcasing Americana visual history via African-American cultural and political art will be held 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 in the Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony of the Henry Madden Library (third floor, north wing). Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will deliver remarks.

For more information, contact Dr. T. Hasan Johnson at 559.278.8805 or For African Peoples’ History Month, call the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute at 559.278.6946.

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