Lack of Character Greatest Obstacle for Blacks, Black Conservative Says

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

(Editor's note: Fixes fourth paragraph.)

( - A black conservative leader said Monday legal barriers have been removed, so now the greatest obstacle for blacks is no longer racism but lack of character.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), said on the 76th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. there is "relatively little discrimination against blacks" and "the nation has lived up" to Dr. King's dream "by making monumental strides to correct past wrongs."

"Blacks have made great economic progress, but along the way, most have become morally bankrupt. Seventy-percent of black children born out of wedlock is unacceptable. And the celebration of drugs and perverse sex in rap music must be rejected," Peterson said.

"Blacks today are not suffering due to racism or the lack of economic opportunity; they're suffering because of their lack of moral character," Peterson added. "Dr. King told us not to fight injustice with bitterness and hatred. He was basically saying forgive and overcome evil with good."

Peterson said most blacks "have abandoned character in search of material riches" and pointed to King's "I Have a Dream Speech."

"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred...We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force," King said in his speech.

Peterson concluded, "Our biggest barrier is no longer the law, white Americans, or black leaders. It is ourselves. Responsibility, not excuses. Character, not hatred. That is the dream."

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