Saluting Jesse Jackson

Published 6:24 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

To the Editor:

Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher and mathematician, stated, “No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.”

This quote reminds me of Reverend Jesse Jackson, civil rights advocate and humanitarian, whose noble advocacies have satiated appetites for racial justice and equality and basic fairness.

Since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appointed Jesse Jackson as director of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Jackson has met challenges with conviction and perseverance. Though Jackson may be experiencing trials and tribulations regarding his health, we must remember his legacy of achievement in the social and racial justice arenas and extend a debt of gratitude.

How many people recall when Reverend Jackson went to Perdue Farms, Inc. in Lewiston-Woodville to support efforts to unionize? What about the anti-hunger campaigns and Jackson’s raising consciousness and awareness about the need for a Palestinian state to improve relations between Israel and the Arab World?

In 1965, Jackson went to Selma, Alabama to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and fight for voting rights for Blacks. Also noteworthy, Jackson visited South Africa in 1979 to protest Apartheid. Nonetheless, Jackson, who founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) and established the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984, is a peacemaker. In 2000, he received a Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. That same year, Jackson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

Jackson found time to attend court in Glynn County, Georgia to support the family of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man killed by white men as he jogged down a road on February 23, 2020. Jackson and Arbery’s family attorneys called the murder “a modern-day lynching.” Rev. Jackson deserves kudos for making the sacrifice.

A moment indelibly etched in my memory was when I met Rev. Jackson—I met him on multiple occasions over the years—at a rally in the Raleigh area. I told one of his sons that I wanted to shake a good man’s hand. He whispered in his father’s ear. Seconds later, Jackson walked to the front edge of the stage, shook my hand, and uttered, “Hey man, how are you doing!?”

Keith W. Cooper