Jesse Jackson mentioned that he had expected Rev. Joseph Lowery to end the benediction with a "stemwinder." What's a stemwinder? Well, apparently, it's a old-timey term used to describe "a rousing political speech." (Jesse was right, too).
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.
Personally, I thought this was a nice way to playfully deflate the pomp, and to test the strictures of political correctness, but the folksy tone seems to have tweaked the guys I watched on Fox News a few minutes ago.1 It's probably worthwhile to note that Lowery was referencing (at the very least) an old blues standard, Big Bill Broonzy's "Black, Brown, and White" — though the lyrics of the song likely have roots and references elsewhere.
I went to an employment office,Got a number 'n' i got in lineThey called everybody's number,But they never did call mineThey said, "if you was white, should be all right,If you was brown, could stick around,But as you black, hmm brother, get back, get back, get back"I hope when sweet victory,With my plough and hoeNow i want you to tell me brother,What you gonna do about the old jim crow?Now if you was white, should be all right,If you was brown, could stick around,But if you black, whoa brother, get back, get back, get back
Considering that Rev. Lowery has been there since the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement — he helped to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott — I think he's earned the benefit of the doubt (at the very least) when it comes to winding stems. (And as I was writing this, his Wikipedia entry was updated to note that the concluding words were "part of a civil rights chant that Lowery has included in many speeches over the years," linking to a couple of speeches in which he has used the same conclusion). 1 Also, some people are peeved about "white will embrace what is right;" most seem to interpret an insulting insinuation that "white" has not done so yet. I assume these people are themselves white. And that they take everything very, very personally.