Jesse Jackson takes Obama to task over Jena 6



Hat Tip: By Roddie A. Burris, the State

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called Tuesday on Democrats seeking the 2008 nomination for president to give S.C. voters “something to vote for” when they go to the polls in January.

On a statewide tour to register new voters, Jackson said South Carolina will determine “who has momentum” in the primary when it votes Jan. 29.

Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La. Jackson, who also lives in Illinois, endorsed Obama in March, according to The Associated Press.

“If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson said after an hour-long speech at Columbia’s historically black Benedict College.

“Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment,” said the iconic civil rights figure, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1965 Selma civil rights movement and was with King at his 1968 assassination.

Later, Jackson said he did not recall making the “acting like he’s white” comment about Obama, stressing he only wanted to point out the candidates had not seized on an opportunity to highlight the disproportionate criminal punishments black youths too often face.

Jackson also said Obama, who consistently has placed second in state and national polls behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, must be “bolder” in his political positions if he is to erase Clinton’s lead.

Jackson is the only African-American ever to carry South Carolina in a presidential primary election.

Obama’s South Carolina campaign pointed to a statement it released last week in which Obama called on the local Louisiana district attorney to drop the excessive charges brought in the case.

“When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it’s a tragedy,” the Obama statement said. “It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions.”

Thousands from across the country, including some from Columbia, are expected to converge on the small town of Jena today to protest the “Jena 6” arrests.

Jackson told the 500 to 600 students in his audience at Benedict that “criminal injustice,” instead of a rope, is the pressing civil rights issue of their day, but that voting remained their strongest ally.

Your fight is not about ropes, it’s about hope,” Jackson said, blasting the flood of guns and violence he said permeates many black communities.

Civil rights, he said, has become the counterculture of the day rather than the prevailing culture. “You can’t call on the Justice Department anymore; it’s not there.”

Jackson, who became only the second major black candidate to run for president, won five primaries in his 1984 bid for the office, then 11 primaries and nearly 7 million votes in his 1988 run.

He said the 2008 presidential candidates must speak most directly to the pressing S.C. issues of housing, high tuition costs, health care and a plan to end the war in Iraq.

“The candidates have got to speak to South Carolina,” said Jackson, who was traveling also to S.C. State University in Orangeburg and to Charleston Tuesday evening before wrapping up his registration drive tonight in Aiken.

A Greenville native, Jackson said he hoped to register thousands of new voters during the statewide swing, which began Saturday in Rock Hill.

“Their votes must equal change,” he said, referring to residents in a state where only 1 in 4 eligible voters go to the polls. “I want to make sure the right agenda is being voted on in 2008.”

His approach worked for senior mass-communications major Darius Dior Porcher, 21, who graduated from famed Scotts Branch High School in Clarendon County, which produced the Briggs v. Elliott school desegregation case of 1954.

“The main thing when you speak to students is to get them to move,” Porcher said. “He moved students today. He got them to come down to the floor and register to vote.”

14 thoughts on “Jesse Jackson takes Obama to task over Jena 6

  1. Preachers often get carried away. I imagine that Jackson got carried away when he made his comments. I imagine that there is some jealosy involved. Anyhow, it is funny that Jesse Jackson’s son is a national campaign manager for Obama …and Jackson Jr. thought Obama was doing the right thing.

    Anyhow, you did an excellent job of sharing this information. Well done!

    peace, Villager

  2. A great deal of talk has been made of Jackson being jealous of Obama. Whether this is true or not I don’t know. More likely it is politics of division trying to derail or split black votes for Obama. Anyway, the commmit was unfortunate, but I think I understood what Jackson was saying with his unfortunate choice of words. So many white politicians will not speak up in protest over certain matters affecting disproportianatly the larger Afro American community for fear of alienating narrow white minds. Obama did take a stand on the issue Jena 6. Do I think he should say more, yes. But for the moment, I am content with stand he has taken and his comment. Somewhere down the line though, Obama will have to be as direct as Edwards was in his comment about the Jena 6 down the line.

  3. I don’t have any problems with folks who don’t think Obama has done enough, as long as they call out Hillary and Edwards too.

    Denise, I saw that and was wondering about where were all the donations from the hip hoppers? This isn’t even Bowie’s generation…it is THEIR generation.

  4. Just wanted to make sure that people got Jesse’s response to the reports of what he supposedly said about Senator Obama.

    “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.”

  5. AlexoftheTurnips,

    As I said elsewhere, if someone didn’t have Jesse on tape saying this, then all he would have to say is…

    ” It’s a damn lie. Produce the tape where I said it”.

    The fact that he’s issuing ‘ statements to reaffirm’ his support of Obama, tells me that someone out there HAS him on tape saying it.

    And, as I said before, I have no problem with him saying it, as long as he calls out the two that actually lived their adult lives in the South: Hillary and Edwards. Don’t make it selective to Obama.

  6. These guys are not innocent even under their supporters’ account. They were provoked by words and responded with a six on one beat down. These are not good people and they don’t belong on the street. The murder charges have been dropped, so this whole thing is moot.

    Jackson has to invent racism where it does not exist and ignore black criminality where it does exist . . . which is pretty much everywhere every day.

    PS It’s still legal under the First Amendment to show nooses on a tree. It might mean you can get suspended from school–which the offenders were–but that’s it. Maybe you should read the Constitution sometime.

  7. Chris Roach,

    As a Black person, we understand nooses in a tree. We understand the threat.

    Try it, and don’t be surprised by the reaction.

    It’s not a ‘joke’ or a ‘prank’ or an expression of ‘ free speech’.

  8. Nenebene

    Punishment must be equal to the crime. Attempted murder and Conspiracy is a conspiracy to legally crucify these young men. No way in the world are these charges right, and no way in this world is it a freedom of speech to hang a noose, paint a swastika, burn a cross EVER.

  9. star1

    Rev. Jackson, as always, is right on target. He has earned the right say and speak his mind on many issues including the Jena 6. He is still the most successful individual in “registering our people” to vote. Criticize if you must – but Jesse speaks truth when necessary. I support him and Obama.

  10. Context is everything. Had Rev. Jackson accused Senator Obama of being an oreo, uppity, or otherwise accused him of being an uncle Tom, we’d be a nation of justified crabbers. The context is being ignored and everyone is being sucked into making a non-issue appear significant, while we busily ignore the utter failure of the Democrats to save us from a clearly criminal anti-american administration.

    Apparently Rev. Jackson claimed that Senator Obama was reacting to the situation in Jena in the same way that most white politicians are reacting; i.e., not at all.

    But by all means, play along and pretend that Rev.Jackson claimed that Senator Obama gets all the white womens, and he’s jealous. Meanwhile, a duplicitous and traitorous corporate media is going to keep “doing” the body politic, without even so much as a reach-around. Roddie Burris doesn’t seem to be at fault here, but the national media are working this topic (and the viewing sheep) like masters.

    Meanwhile, my cousin is trying to get double sourced corroboration or refutation of Burris’s claims from someone at Benedict College, because journalism isn’t dead, it’s just moved to the blogs.

  11. SB: My ability to comment has been limited since I started working. But I’m still watching and reading what you’re doing over here. As usual, you are holding it down. Stay encouraged, my brotha.


  12. mschrisbrown2010

    i think that u shouldnt comment on the way someone else is handling something just because u r handling it differently than the way they r handling it. if ur getting angry and they r angry and they arent acting like doesn’t mean anything. so WTF mind ur own business

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