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Sweet column: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. rebuts Dad. Tells Rev. Jackson Obama is “powerful, consistent and effective” advocate for African Americans.

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WASHINGTON — Contradicting his father, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) writes in a Sun-Times column running Monday on the paper’s editorial pages that White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is a “powerful, consistent and effective” advocate for African Americans. LINK
(full version below)

Jackson mounted a strong rebuttal to a column by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. that ran in the Nov. 27 Sun-Times editorial pages where he chastised the Democrats running for president — with the exception of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) — because they “have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country.”

“. . . Democratic candidates are talking about health care and raising the minimum wage, but they aren’t talking about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans,” the senior Jackson wrote.

The words of Rev. Jackson, a two-time presidential candidate, carried a particular sting since he is endorsing Obama’s presidential bid.

The situation is even more politically charged because Rep. Jackson is a member of Obama’s national leadership team. (The men are close; his sister Sanita is a childhood friend of Obama’s wife, Michelle.)

Noting that the Secret Service gave Rev. Jackson the code name of “Thunder” when he ran in 1984, Rep. Jackson said that in his father’s Nov. 27 column, “ ‘Thunder’ struck again.”

“. . . While causing quite a stir, Reverend Jackson's comments unfortunately dimmed — rather than directed — light on the facts. But, they should be clear. “As a national co-chair of Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, I’ve been a witness to Obama’s powerful, consistent and effective advocacy for African Americans. He is deeply rooted in the black community, having fought for social justice and economic inclusion throughout his life.

“On the campaign trail — as he’s done in the U.S. Senate and the state Legislature before that — Obama has addressed many of the issues facing African Americans out of personal conviction, rather than political calculation.”

The family of the Rev. Jesse Jackson is divided over the two Democratic front-runners.

While the reverend and his namesake son support Obama, Jacqueline, his wife, is supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and another son, Yusef, is a major Clinton fund-raiser.

The Sun-Times has learned from the Clinton and Obama campaigns that Rep. Jackson and his mother will be hitting the campaign trail for their respective candidates in the early presidential voting states.

Both Jacksons are their own men, and it is not surprising that Rep. Jackson would speak up if he disagreed with his father over Obama. Rep. Jackson and his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), see themselves as a generational extension of the work of his father, the civil rights leader who founded Rainbow/PUSH in the wake of his presidential runs.

Rev. Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 bids started with an African-American base, expanding to form a “Rainbow Coalition” to reflect the need for a broader appeal.

In an Oct. 24 NPR interview, Rep. Jackson, vouching for Obama, said, “Obama is not speaking as a friend of the community; he is speaking as part of the community — he's one of us. He directly relates to the struggles within the African-American community.

“Now we have Barack Obama, inheritor of the Rainbow Coalition,” Rep. Jackson told NPR.

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SEEING THE LIGHT

Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed

By Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.

During his historic run for the presidency in 1984, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. was dubbed "Thunder" by the Secret Service agents assigned to protect him. It was a fitting name for Reverend Jackson, whose electrifying oratory, energy and intellect shed light on critical issues as he took the country by storm.

In his recent column [Sun-Times, November 27th], "Thunder" struck again, criticizing today's Democratic presidential candidates for having "virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country." While causing quite a stir, Reverend Jackson's comments unfortunately dimmed -- rather than directed -- light on the facts. But, they should be clear.

As a national co-chair of Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign, I've been a witness to Obama's powerful, consistent and effective advocacy for African Americans. He is deeply rooted in the Black community, having fought for social justice and economic inclusion throughout his life. On the campaign trail -- as he's done in the U.S. Senate and the state legislature before that -- Obama has addressed many of the issues facing African Americans out of personal conviction, rather than political calculation.

It is a testament to his deep commitment and new vision that Senator Obama is poised to become the first Black man to make it all the way to the White House. Taking him there will be the character, the judgment and the principles that are propelling his rise.

So often, the place where a candidate begins a campaign points to the direction where he intends to take the country. It is a hint and harbinger of things to come.

After cinching his party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in 1980, Ronald Reagan selected the site for his first formal appearance of the campaign -- Philadelphia, Mississippi. As he stood before the cheering crowd of thousands on that August day, the "Great Communicator" was indeed sending an unmistakably powerful message about his future policies and priorities as president.

Philadelphia, Mississippi is infamous for one event. During the "Freedom Summer" of 1964, three volunteer civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney -- two Jews and a Black -- were killed by a mob of Ku Klux Klansman. Riddled with bullets, the men's bodies were found buried beneath an earthen dam.

Standing at this stronghold of civil rights resistance, Ronald Reagan declared "I believe in states' rights." The statement was clear and convincing. True to his word, President Reagan established a long record against civil rights and social equality in the Oval Office.

In sharp contrast, Barack Obama made another appeal, from a decidedly different stage, full of symbolism and hope.

Barack Obama launched his presidential campaign at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous speech calling on a divided nation to come together. Arguing that slavery was morally wrong, Lincoln professed this: "I believe that this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free."

Lincoln's words were not just poignant, they were prophetic. His campaign defined the challenge and changed the country, setting in motion an immortal, inevitable clash of armies and ideas. In the clamor and convulsion of the Civil War, President Lincoln rallied the nation, freed the slaves, and saved our Union, ushering in "a new birth of freedom."

Almost a century and half later, Barack Obama stood only steps away from where Lincoln warned of a "House Divided." Like Lincoln, Obama called on us to come together and "to face the challenges of this millennium together, as one people -- as Americans." He called on us to join with him to conclude a war without end, to solve the health care crisis, to build better schools, to create better jobs and to provide greater opportunity and justice for all. He said, "I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America."

Clearly, African Americans -- as all Americans -- are listening and responding. On the same day that Reverend Jackson's article appeared, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released the results of its latest national survey of likely Black presidential primary voters. The study found that many African Americans were paying close attention, with nearly 75 percent having a favorable view of Barack Obama.

They see the light.

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Release from the Rev. Jesse Jackson in September...

Rev. Jackson’s Support For Sen. Obama Will Not Be Diluted

The following is a statement from Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder and president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition, in response to the comments taken out of context about Sen. Barack Obama

The following may be used as direct quotes from Rev. Jackson.

CHICAGO – (September 19, 2007) – I reaffirm my commitment to vote for Sen. Barack Obama. He has remarkably transcended race, however the impact of Katrina and Jena makes America’s unresolved moral dilemma of race unavoidable. I think Jena is another defining moment of the issue of race and the criminal justice system. This issue requires direct and bold leadership. I commend Sen. Obama for speaking out and demanding fairness on this defining issue. Any attempt to dilute my support for Sen. Obama will not succeed.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. To learn more, please visit www.rainbowpush.org, or telephone (773) 373-3366. To arrange an interview with Rev. Jackson on this topic, please call the telephone numbers listed above.

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10 Comments

The problem with African-Americans is that Barack Obama's father came from Africa. If he were to be Tony Jackson, his support among Afrian-Americans will be 90%. For them to support a white woman over a black candidate is beyond belief. In order to be black to many of them, your fore-parents must have to be a slave. This kind of thinking was expressed by Alan Keys in the Illinois senatorial elections. They can hide behind his so-called lack of exerience, but we know the truth. Rev. Jackson, Al Sharpton and co. are jealous of Barack and wished his father never came from Africa. Some of them say he is not black enough, not because his mother is white, rather his father is the issue. They will rather get the first black President to be sons/daughters of slaves. What a shame!

I think that Jesse Jackson was in the right on this. He is saying that only John Edwards is actively and consistently speaking to issues that are of particular import to the working class, lower middle, middle and poor, and that these are issues that impact the lives of Black Americans in particular. It doesn't make Obama a bad man; it highlights that John Edwards is out there talking about two Americas and fighting the good fight and Obama is talking about conciliation and is de-emphasizing some issues that are important to Black Americans. I collected signatures to get Edwards on the ballot in New York State and there were plenty of working class Blacks I spoke to interested in signing the petition. Will they vote for Obama? Likely. But they are hearing Edwards.

"well, look", i thought the junior senator from illinois "brought people together". what would he do as chief executive, give louisiana back to the french, california to mexico, and gettysburg to the confederacy, yes?
speaking of the jacksons, who's tito and michael with?

The first post about Obama father being the problem is ABSOLUTELY the point. When black america spew that Obama is not black enough, all they are saying is that his father is African and he not one of us. To be African-american, you have to be a descendant of slave. Though his wife is a descendant of slave and could potentially be the next First Lady, most would rather see Senator Hillary Clinton as the next BLACK woman President. Twisted reasoning? You bet!!!

It's understandable that the elder Jackson would favor Hillary Clinton over Obama. My take on it is that Obama isn't BLACK enough for Jesse Sr. but Hillary probably is. Plus he has a history of scheming and scamming with former president Clinton.

Just who is this supposed unifier? The one who promotes his black heritage while shunning his white (supportive) heritage. Do you think giving driver's licenses and amnesty to illegals is going to get this person elected by the majority of Americans? I don't think so. How about his non-repentant drug use? Let's tell high schoolers it's o.k. as long as you don't get caught, you too can run for office.
If he stood up for all of America, maybe he'd have a chance. He does not.

I think it's very funny to have white Americans explain what Black Americans are thinking and why.

The issue has never been about Barack's father being from Africa. Most black people have become accustomed to having their leaders coming from the traditions of the civil rights movements started in the 60's. Obama has never been a part of that and does not directly talk to these issues.
Obama must continue to talk on issues that affect all Americans not just us. He can not be perceived as the Black candidate but a candidate who happens to be black and male.

Jeffrey & Russ - you guys are hilarious.

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"It's understandable that the elder Jackson would favor Hillary Clinton over Obama." Anonymous

Read the full story; the elder Jackson IS supporting Obama.

One point that Obama makes repeatedly is that he represents the new generation and experience, Bill Clinton, is passe. We have seen the young governor of Illinois publically shame and degrade his father-in-law who is the person who single handedly made his political career possible and now we see Jesse Jr. who lives with the singular benefit of his father's name giving a public lecture to his father. The new generation may or may not have some better ideas but if this is the kind of values they will bring to the table, no thanks.

I worked on Jesse Jackson's 1984 Poor People's Campaign. I revere him for his courage and leadership. His run for President twice, makes Barack's run possible now. When Barack says that "People before me stood up," he means Jesse and people like him. When he says, "I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, " he mens Jesse, among others. I am white. I have a bi-racial child. I remember Jesse's discussion of the multi-colored quilt, and his line, "Black, brown, yellow,white, we are all the same in God's sight." I got to meet him, which was thrilling for me, after standing in the snow for 12 hours on Super Tuesday in my role as precinct captain. Anyway, to the point. It is right and proper for Rev. Jackson to point out that the plight of African Americans in this country, is much worse than the plight of other groups. "If the whites have a cold, the Blacks have pneumonia." It is also perfectly right and proper for Barack to espouse policies that will help all Americans, and to finish the job Jesse started with the Rainbow Coalition, to unite all of us, for "Peace, Jobs, and Justice." Each is right and we need both. God forbid that Jesse's voice should be silenced on the subjects he has fought for all his life. And believe me, when he ran, he got the Jackie Robinson treatment big time. When anyone tries to denigrate him on any blog, I rise to his defense and always will. He is always pushing us to right the wrongs of racial injustice and we need him in that role. He supports Barack Obama, as I do , because Barack within himself embodies the things he fought so hard for, and he will take the cause into the future. "The tide raises all boats." I hope and pray everyday that Obama will win because we really need to win this time. "Keep hope alive," is a meaningless slogan now for those in the inner city who are trapped in a hopeless cycle of jail, drugs and death. We need the Power to change this. We desperately need to win this time. With Obama in the White House, with Michelle and their two beautiful daughters, the change will be felt - at once. Look at President Obama and his family and look at yourselves. Instantaneous. The hope lies in that reality coming to pass. He tackled the justice system, racial profiling and helath care in Illinois. He will do it in Washington. He has promised to meet with community organizers and leaders before being inaugurated to let them help set the agenda for his administration. He proposes using the internet for a trully transparent, participatory democracy. Shining the light on the truth is the best way to right wrongs, and he intends to do that, in a way that will unite us around our common interests. God Bless you Jesse Jackson, for all you have done for us. You are a true American Hero.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 2, 2007 11:22 PM.

Sweet special: Obama ahead in new Iowa poll. Clinton camp brings former Obama rival to debate. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet extra: Obama's Plouffe calls on supporters to report Clinton attacks "the moment you see something." is the next entry in this blog.

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