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Rev. Jesse Jackson on Civil Rights

Civil Rights Activist


Black disenfranchisement part of Civil Rights movement

Rev. Jesse Jackson linked the disenfranchisement on Nov. 7 of Florida blacks to the civil rights struggle. “45 years ago this week,” he thundered, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Ala. It’s all about “one-person, one-vote,” he extrapolated, and about “every disenfranchised vote in Florida.” He ticked off a series of electoral miscues and official acts that he alleged resulted in a persistent and pervasive pattern of discrimination against minority voters by a redneck establishment. “They still keep these chains,” local voting officials operated under the nostrum of “your pain, my gain,” contended the rhyming preacher. “We deserve better than that. We will never surrender.”

No bloc is more outraged by the pattern of official conduct in Florida than black America, which voted better than 9 to 1 for Gore. Jackson and millions of others seem convinced that black votes were systematically excluded in Florida.

Source: David Nyhan, Boston Globe Op-Ed, p. H4 , Dec 10, 2000

Blacks were disproportionately disenfranchised in Florida

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, claiming “a clear pattern of voter suppression of African-American votes,” wants the Justice Department to begin a formal investigation in Florida. “African-Americans were targeted to be disenfranchised,” he said yesterday at a news conference.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that its computer analysis found the more black and Democratic a precinct, the more likely a high number of presidential votes were not counted. About 2.9 percent of Florida’s presidential ballots, roughly 180,000, were not counted because no candidate was chosen, two candidates were picked, or a ballot was not clearly marked. Traditionally, 2 percent of ballots cast nationwide do not record a presidential vote. In Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county, roughly 3 percent of ballots were excluded from the presidential tally. But in precincts with a black population of 70 percent or more, about 10 percent were not counted.

Source: Michael J. Sniffen, AP, in Boston Globe, pg. A10 , Dec 4, 2000

Sued Illinois school for expelling black students

In 1999, Jackson fomented social unrest in Decatur, Illinois, over the expulsion of several young black men from high school. The youngsters - make that hoodlums - had caused a mini-riot at a football game and had assaulted several spectators. Jackson sided with the expelled troublemakers, whom he described as victims of the local school board’s “racist” policies. By the time that the matter was dropped, a lawsuit instigated by Jackson had cost the local school district more than $100,000.
Source: Opinion by Rev. Jesse Peterson, The New American magazine , Aug 14, 2000

Wall Street Project: boycott & sue to force racial diversity

In 1997 Jackson opened an office in New York for his “Wall Street Project” to push for “racial diversity” in corporate leadership. Jackson’s “Project” threatens lawsuits and boycotts against corporate targets. The first victim was Texaco, which paid a $176 million out-of-court settlement of a spurious race discrimination case. The sum included $111 million in “racial reparations,” $35 million for “diversity training,” and generous pay increases for 1,000 black employees.

Texaco agreed to the settlement of the case, which would have been laughed out of court, after Jackson warned that the corporation would be boycotted and reviled as “racist” unless it accepted Jackson’s terms of surrender. Jackson has used the same strategy to extract similar concessions from Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven, Shoney’s, Coors, and other corporations. He has also opened an office in Silicon Valley to carry out similar shakedowns of high-tech companies.

Source: Opinion by Rev. Jesse Peterson, The New American magazine , Aug 14, 2000

4th phase of emancipation is democratization of capital

I view the economic emancipation of African Americans as the fourth phase on a historic continuum. If I were to compose a four-movement Freedom Symphony, the first movement would be the emancipation of the slaves: a 200-year battle, rooted deeply in our Constitution. The second movement would be another 100-year struggle to end legal segregation. The third movement would be the enfranchisement of all Americans, 18 and older, through passage of the Voting Rights Act. The fourth movement-the final stage It is not enough to hope that ERA will pass. How can we pass ERA? If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It is the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come together. We must come together.
Source: Address to the Democratic Convention , Jul 2, 1999

Expand Black & Hispanic Entrepreneurial Cooperation

Economic emancipation is a continuation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision. I have been blessed to take it to some advanced stages. The church’s role in expanding economic options is a powerful one.

We challenged the exclusion of African Americans and Hispanics from business and worked to open up franchises, loans, and investment for African American and Hispanic entrepreneurs. Eventually Operation PUSH and LULAC, a Hispanic organization, began to do joint negotiations. That cooperation between blacks and Hispanics must be expanded.

Dr. King understood that equal opportunity required entry into the mrketplace and access to jobs, education, and private investment. The Wall Street Project-launched in 1977 by the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition-is a tribute to Dr. King’s realization that dreams and visions are not enough to achieve economic emancipation of those left behind in our society; instead structural problems require structural solutions.

Source: It’s About the Money!, p. 7 , Jul 2, 1999

Pledged woman V.P. in 1984; key to Geraldine Ferraro in 1988

The 1984 campaign must be regarded as a failure in terms of gaining concessions from the Democratic party. Jackson was not successful in convincing the party to initiate major new domestic programs or cut back on defense spending. He was unable to establish a good relationship with either Mondale or Gary Hart. Jackson can take some credit for the nomination of Geraldine Ferraro for vice-president, having first pledged to nominate a woman as his running mate.
Source: The Search for Common Ground, by Charles Henry, p.131-32 , Jul 2, 1991

Participated in gay rights rallies during 1988 campaign

Jackson usually refused to attack his opponents, preferring instead to debate the issues. Many whites attracted to the campaign saw it as a way to focus attention on issue such as peace, the family farm, and gay rights. Jackson spoke forcefully on these issues. He stayed overnight with a farm family in the Midwest and a Latino family in the West. He participated in labor strikes and gay rights demonstrations. These actions clearly expanded the boundaries of campaigning.
Source: The Search for Common Ground, by Charles Henry, p.134 , Jul 2, 1991

First serious black presidential candidate

A Time poll taken in 1988 discovered that 49% of voters said they would not vote Democratic if Jackson were on the ticket as the nominee and 40% would not vote Democratic if he were the vice presidential nominee. When these respondents were asked why, 39% cited his “lack of government experience,” 32% replied “his race” & 12% said his “position on the issues.” Though Jackson is capable of modifying his positions and gaining experience, he cannot change his race. The history of polling on racial questions tells us that if 32% are willing to admit their racism, the number who oppose him on racial grounds is higher. These figures present an almost insurmountable obstacle for a black presidential candidate.

Though race may prevent Jackson from achieving the presidency, his 1984 and 1988 campaigns broadened the bounds of political debate and the scope of political choice. American democracy has been made more real by Jackson’s presence.

Source: The Search for Common Ground, by Charles Henry, p.140-41 , Jul 2, 1991

ERA will pass if we all come together

It is not enough to hope that ERA will pass. How can we pass ERA? If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It is the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come together. We must come together.
Source: Address to the Democratic Convention , Jul 17, 1984

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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Oct 09, 2013