September 19th, 2007
06:10 PM ET
7 years ago

Jesse Jackson: Obama's 'acting like he's white'

Jackson was sharply critical of Obama's reaction to the case in Jena, Louisiana Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson sharply criticized Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Tuesday over his reaction to the arrest of six black juveniles in Jena, Louisiana on murder charges, accusing the Illinois senator of "acting like he's white," according to a South Carolina newspaper.

The comments reportedly came after a speech at Columbia’s historically black Benedict College.

The State newspaper reports Jackson later said he did not recall saying Obama is "acting like he's white," but continued to condemn the Illinois Democrat as well as the other presidential candidates for not bringing more attention to this issue. (Related: Residents: Nooses spark school violence, divide town)

He also said Obama needs to be "bolder" in his stances if he wants to make inroads in South Carolina. Obama currently trails rival Hillary Clinton, a senator from New York, in the Palmetto State by 18 points, according to a recent LA Times/Bloomberg poll.

Jackson, who ran for president twice in the 1980's, endorsed Obama's White House bid earlier in the year. Jackson won the South Carolina Democratic primary, where African American voters play an influential role, in both presidential bids.

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- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (828 Responses)
  1. Stephen

    I am a news junkie, and I have not heard much about Jena, how about blaming the MSM first.

    September 19, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Well, it's true. Have you ever listened to the way Obama speaks to different crowds? Particularly, black crowds. He speaks with that slangy accent... like he's one of them.... and then when he's in front of a group of white voters he sounds perfectly precise and no accent. Thats akin to John Kerry going to Texas and using a Texas accent! Don't you think the Texans would be offended? Pandering is pandering, plain and simple. Obama is just another slimy politician.

    September 19, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Jackson is only half-right about Obama, which is an improvement over this black racist reverend's usual average. Jena would not have happened if black boys hadn't beat up white boys.

    September 19, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Joe, Washington, DC

    Acting white... i.e., acting civilized.

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Erik, St. Petersburg, FL

    Jesse is an idiot...

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Marc Blumberg,Louisville,Ky

    Goi home Jessie

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. Ken, Boston MA

    Oh boy, here comes the reason there are so many problems for blacks in this nation. We are all members of the HUMAN race, Jesse, and your extremist, neo-black panther politics went out as fast as your failed campaigns did. Get out of the spotlight, stop committing marital infidelities, and above all else leave race out of the equation once and for all.

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. colorblind, ethel, ms

    To bad Jessie Jackson can't act white!

    September 19, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Online man

    Jesse need to go home and STFU.
    The old geezer thinks he has to put in his last word in everything.

    Most of the time he's full of it too.

    September 19, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Will, NYC

    Jesse Jackson, for the love of God, please go away. Now you are reduced to cutting off the knees of any black man who stands up. You are just as bad as the culture that glorifies sexism, violence and gangsterism. Classy, you ain't.

    September 19, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Bee

    Jackson should get a life and stop the polarization that is meaningless.

    September 19, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. JB Boston MA

    I am confused about this. Why are so many people choosing this as a battle? The 6 students almost killed this other student. One specifically, Micah Bell has several other convictions for assault (5 to be precise). Now, hanging nooses on a tree is a vile disgusting thing (and the students who did that should have been punished more than a suspension), but, no action in this country allows you to beat someone to (almost) death. Except of course, if you are defending yourself. The 16 year old, Micah Bell has several other convictions, and I believe should be tried as an adult. Now, as far as Obama is concerned. . . I wouldn't take campaign recommendations from Jesse Jackson. He clearly wasn't good at campaigning himself, and, truthfully has become virtually irrelevant.

    September 19, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. Claude, Mesa AZ

    Jesse Jackson is the proverbial "crab" in a barrel. The biggest "wolf" ticket in town.

    September 19, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Melissa - King of Prussia, Pa

    Who elected Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to be my leader? Obviously he is an idiot for making such a comment! How can you act a certain race? For years I have heard the same remark when I was in school and the people making that remark are living the worse lives right now. I am embarrassed for my race!

    September 19, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Human, HON, HI

    Being a mulatto myself, like Obama, and having spent most of my teenage years in Hawai'i, again like Obama, Jesse Jackson is an Old man with an old way of thinking. I consider Obama more in touch with the world, I feel more in touch with the world than Jackson, I guess that makes me more White than Black or Native American....

    Plus what did the six juvies do anyway?

    September 19, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Common Sense

    Jesse, don't ruin Barack's REAL chances at being elected by trying to transform him into some radical civil rights activist that no one respects because they instantly boil everything down to race like yourself. No one respects you Jesse, not even people of the same color whom you claim to represent. You are merely a radical public speaker who speaks when not spoken to, stands when asked to sit, and barks when there is clearly nothing to bite on. Barack Obama is RUNNING for president of the United States, not head of the NAACP. I fear that our Judicial system is in fact a joke that not only oppresses blacks and minorities, but anyone who doesn't have enough money to skirt a case. There are far more pressing issues that need the attention of the candidates. I think it is a joke that you have not permanently camped yourself down in New Orleans to fight the REAL RACIAL and POLITICAL injustices going on there. If you want to make yourself 'feel' important again Jesse, I suggest you stop criticizing the most influential figure, and best hope at installing a black man as President, and start finding ways to support Mr. Obama, instead of calling him White. That simply makes you look like a jelous, ignorant fool, but we all know that's what you are anyways, so your recent out of line comments will be taken with two grains of salt. You are doing more harm to your race than good, sir.

    September 19, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Jonathan, Orlando, FL

    jesse needs to sit his cranky, old butt down. Obama does not have to derail his campaign to run after this issue. There will be thousands of African Americans there and that speaks for itself. Obama need not lead the issue for every black issue that surfaces. No other race does that and we shouldn't either.

    September 19, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. Ricky,Jonesboro,Ga

    To be honest,Obama is not African American by any definition.His dad is an African from Kenya and mom from Kansas.It is unlikely that he experienced what most African Americans young men had to go through in their life.It is understandable if he acts insulated.He is still very qualified to lead this nation in whatever standard that is set .

    September 19, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Chev Chellios hr va

    How racist is it that he has to say somebody is acting white. For leaders in the black community Sharpton and Jackson sure do like to call out racism when they are 2 of the biggest racists on the plantet. They need to take a stance against themselves for just tying to get attn and not actually doing anything other than tring to stay in the public eye.

    September 19, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Josephine Lindahl L .A California


    September 19, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Maya

    Jesse Jackson is an embarrassment to all African-Americans (yes, I am African-American). There is no such thing as "acting" or "talking" white, but he is a prime example of "acting" like an idiot!

    September 19, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    "The Reverend" Jackson evidently doesn't like Senator Obama 'stealing' the limelight from him.

    Although I'm a card carrying Republican, I can honestly say that Senator Obama has more class than Jackson can ever hope to have.

    Furthermore, if Jesse Jackson truly did care about the plight of African-Americans, he would address the dilemmas facing them in today's society, such as:

    (1) 70% out of wedlock birthrate;

    (2) More black men are in prison than in college;

    (3)African-American students score lower on tests than their white, Hispanic, and Asian counterparts.

    September 19, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Laura, AR

    Even though Obama did not publically speak out, I don't think he should have been critized by Rev. Jackson. We all have to stick together to see justice done, criticism won't get us there.

    September 19, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. christian, selden, ny

    im sorry, but isnt this case about 6 black kids that beat the crap out of a white kid???? i understand that they were being charged harshly but is this really a racial issue?? i know that someone put nooses on a tree and thats horrible and racist, but didnt they beatdown a kid that had nothing to do with it? is this something al sharpton and jesse jackson need to promote? and why should obama make this a national issue? because he is black!? i am all for standing up for civil rights but this case makes no sense to me. i can understand being upset about the nooses and demonstrating on that issue but these kids beat some white kid and sharpton and jackson are NOW rallying around the courts decision on punishment????????? maybe the 6 degenerates shouldnt have beat the kid!!!! this is so backwards and eats away at the community way more then the nooses did. wow the court was going to come down hard on some kids for putting someone else in the hospital....jackson and sharpton get paid by communities to fan controversy so they do whatever it takes to get the country to notice regardless if its right or wrong. why arent they protesting the education system? why arent they outside of interscope records to protest the hateful music being pumped out, why arent they standing on street corners in the bronx to protest the violent crime going on? ill tell you why because there isnt much money in that!! its easier to sue the system when some racial tensions rise....please inform me if im wrong on this case because from what i have seen i dont see one reason why obama should be discussing this.....its funny how we get angry at politicians in new jersey for being to easy on convicts and letting them go and they end up killing someone, but now in this case we get angry because the judge is being too hard...make your mind up!!

    September 19, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Margarita

    Jessie Jackson: Obama's 'acting like he's white' what a racist comment from Jackson's part, I think it is time to put aside color of the skin and teach young people in America to be responsible of their acts. My vote will go to the most capable candidate and not for the color of his/her skin.

    September 19, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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