Rev. Wright Returns - Kinder, Gentler, Tame?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Reverend Jeremiah Wright is back. President Obama's controversial former pastor making a speech just a few miles from us at an NAACP event in Maryland.


REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT: The path that the NAACP has had to travel, paralleling the pat that my parents had to travel, that path has not been an easy path. We have to remember that path. It has not been a trouble- free path, it has not been a path upon which there was always been unanimity, even among the membership of the NAACP.

It has been a contentious path, and a contentious path. It has been a contested path, and it has been a path like "Mother to Son," a difficult path with rough places more rough than smooth, a path through the wilderness of hatred, the wilderness of prejudice, the wilderness of ignorance, and the wilderness of arrogance, a path bloodied by violence and muddied by misunderstanding.

And the words of James Weldon Johnson's poem captured both the path we have traveled, the pinnacle we have climbed, and the promise that we cling to.

The year 1919, the year that the NAACP adopted James Weldon Johnson's poem in song as the Negro national anthem, that was the same year of the red summer, a term coined by James Weldon Johnson to describe the bloody race riots that took place in the summer of 1919 and the fall of 1919 in the city of Chicago.

"We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered. We gather to remember."

Two years later in 1921 the race riot or to be more exact the murder of blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, not only bloodied the path, they not only muddied the path, they seemed to blot out the possibility of a new day begun. Those race riots are murderous memorials of the days when home unborn had died.


VAN SUSTEREN: Fox's Griff Jenkins is on the scene. Griff, what's going on there? We have obviously Reverend Wright talking. But has he been well received there?

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He was well received, Greta. I'll tell you, it's a different Reverend Wright we've seen. The line of the night was he said "Don't call me the controversial pastor. Call me the quoting pastor."

You heard in reference James Weldon Johnson, he quoted from Langston Hughes. It was a speech, Greta, that did the 100 years, this 100th anniversary of the NAACP, he gave a speech he called "The Crossroads of Recognition, Remembrance, and Resolve."

It talked about the tough road and the accomplishments, the great accomplishments of the NAACP, and he talked about resolve going forward.

His only political line of the night, probably, was that what has happened in terms of equality in the White House, referring to President Obama being the first African-American president, hasn't still fully happened in the workplace and that the NAACP has to be vigilant in resolving that.

There were no attacks. There was no reference to what he has previously talked about as being attacked in the media by our network and other networks. A very uplifting thing, he spoke for about 32 minutes.

Interestingly, Greta, I did get to speak with, in Glenburnie Maryland, Arundel County, and the president of the NAACP for Arundel County, Jacqueline Allsup, I spoke with her because about how she chose Reverend Wright and what the reaction was. Take a listen.


JACQUELINE ALLSUP, NAACP: There were several folks who were not excited about his coming and who made it known that they wished that he would not come. But there were more people who wanted to hear him and also were very excited that he is coming.

And now that he is here, you know, the people are here, and they're out to see him as well as to hear what he has to say.

Reverend Wright is controversial. And there may be some -- in the past, some of the sound bites that they did put out there with Reverend Wright were sound bites that I did not agree with.


JENKINS: So President Allsup also may be a little bit surprised as well. There was a packed room of about 500 people. There was nothing controversial.

And Reverend Wright, Greta, ended this speech with talking about resolving the differences we have today with each other without demonizing each other.

So all around, a positive and uplifting speech.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting, Griff, to watch him. He seems so tamed from -- from what we've seen before. Was there a lot of media coverage of this? Are you the only one there? I'm curious, how he received the media.

JENKINS: He was very well receiving of the media. There were about five cameras. I believe most were local area affiliates. I believe we're the only national network here.

There was a private reception with VIP's that we were allowed to go into. And you may have seen some of the footage. That's where I spoke with President Jackie Alsip.

And I got to speak off camera to Reverend Wright and wanted to offer him an opportunity perhaps to offer his thoughts about what happened in the past. And he smiled and said thanks, but decided not to do so.

So very interesting to see what happens going forward, yes -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, thank you. Thanks, Griff.

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