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.
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.
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.