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Mon, 09.22.1941

Jeremiah Wright, Minister and Activist born

Rev. Jeremiah Wright

*Jeremiah Wright was born on this date in 1941. He is a Black minister, educator, and activist.

Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr was born and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the son of Jeremiah Wright, Sr., a Baptist minister, and Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright, a schoolteacher and education administrator.  Wright graduated from the Central High School of Philadelphia in 1959. From 1959 to 1961, Wright attended Virginia Union University and is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Zeta chapter.

In 1961 Wright left college and joined the Marines attaining the rank of private first class. In 1963, after two years of service, he joined the Navy and was trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with the care of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Before leaving the position in 1967, the White House Physician, Vice Admiral Burkley, personally wrote him a letter of thanks on behalf of the United States President.

During that time, Wright enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., earning a bachelor's degree in 1968 and a master’s degree in English in 1969. He also earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Wright holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (1990) from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he studied under Samuel DeWitt Proctor, a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.

He became pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, in 1972; it had some 250 members at the time. By 2008 Trinity United Church of Christ had become a larger church with over 6000 members. Correspondent Roger Wilkins profiled Trinity and Wright in Sherry Jones’s documentary “Keeping the Faith,” broadcast as the June 16, 1987 episode of the PBS series Frontline.   In 1995, Wright was also asked to pray during an afternoon speech session at the Million Man March.  Wright, who began the "Ministers in Training" ("M.I.T.") program at Trinity United Church of Christ, has been a national leader in promoting theological education and the preparation of seminarians for the Black church.

Wright has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, and other educational institutions. Wright has served on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and City Colleges of Chicago.  He has also served on the Board of Directors of Evangelical Health Systems, the Black Theology Project, the Center for New Horizons, and the Malcolm X School of Nursing, and on boards and committees of other religious and civic organizations.  He retired as pastor from Trinity United Church of Christ in early 2008. He is married to Ramah Reed Wright, and he has four daughters, Janet Marie Moore, Jeri Lynne Wright, Nikol D. Reed, and Jamila Nandi Wright, and one son, Nathan D. Reed.

Wright has received a Rockefeller Fellowship and seven honorary doctorate degrees from Colgate University, Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Valparaiso University, United Theological Seminary, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Starr King School for the Ministry. Wright was named one of Ebony magazine's top 15 preachers.

Simpson College also awarded him the first Carver Medal in January 2008 to recognize Wright as "an outstanding individual whose life exemplifies the commitment and vision of the service of George Washington Carver."  Rev. Wright recovered from a stroke in 2016 and continues his ministry.

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