Rev. Lowery's "stemwinder"

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.