September 19th, 2007
06:10 PM ET
4 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. Mike Beck Olathe, Ks.

    I thought what Obama said was decent and upstanding considering he is human and I thought the reverend was being extremely biased racially and of course he also is human just like all the rest of us, isn't he?

    September 19, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Dan, Lawton OK

    Would someone at CNN ask Jesse ad Al to explain the definition of acting white. It is time to get answer if they have the courage to do so; or will they dodge the question?

    September 19, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Trisha, Atlanta, GA

    Jesse is entitled to his opinion, it is only as valid as the listener makes it. For the record the issue is the Jena 6 not Jesse Jackson's Obama comment. Truth is while yes the boys did beat up a white students that altercation took place after the hanging of the nooses & the beating of a black student by white students. In both instances neither the black student nor the white student sustained life threatening injuries in fact the white student who was assaulted attend a party after the attack. The problems is the only students charged in the two attacks that took place were the blacks students. If this is fair justice then shouldn't students in both attacks be brought to justice and if neither of the students attacked suffered life threatening injury is attempted murder the right charge? Does this mean the attack on the black student is acceptable to the justice system? In the end Jesse Jackson's comment is overshadowing the real problems with Jena 6.

    September 19, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Dan, Philly PA

    Congrats Jesse Jackson you continue to fuel the race war! I love that it is ok to insult people for being white but not for being black. I have a better idea, lets judge individuals as such and not do anything we can for some press time. Jackson is an idiot and a racist and should not even be in the news. He knows nothing about being white and he has done nothing credible to help his own race.

    September 19, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. scott akron ohio

    someone should hang jesse with one of those nooses. ill help

    September 19, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. ATLANTA, GEORGIA

    JESSE SHUT UP! OBAMA HAS A BETTER CHANCE AT WINNING THE PRESIDENCY THAN YOU WOULD EVER HAVE!! STOP COVETING!! THERE'S OTHER BLACK REPRESENTATIVES IN THE HOUSE THAN OBAMA. SO DO YOU SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT THEM?

    JUST BECAUSE OBAMA IS NOT OUT RALLYING DOESN'T MEAN HE'S NOT BEING SUPPORTIVE GET OFF YOUR MEDIA FRENZY!!

    September 19, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. leonard,alexandria la.

    Jessie this is not selma and you are not Dr. King

    September 19, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Joe, Manchester, VT

    Remember when Jesse Jackson had the Duke lacrosse players tried and convicted in 30 seconds? I can't help but wonder if Jesse isn't a bit jealous of Barack Obama. First, he backs him and now that he's raised all this money, he has second thoughts. Does Jesse really want him to be President?

    I'm white, male and Catholic. Jesse Jackson is black, male and Baptist. I admit to having not much understanding of what it was to be threatend, pushed to the back of the bus, spat upon and all the other indignities African-Americans have endured.

    However, Senator Obama has spoken out forcefully on the Jena case and to imply otherwise is off base. Senator Obama is where he is because he appeals to all Americans. It's about time.

    I won't bash Jesse here as other have done it, but I must admit to being more than a little angered by his comments. We need a leader, no matter of what background. I'd back Obama if he were white, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or hot pink for that matter.

    Stop the race baiting and stop it now!

    September 19, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Darnell, Los Angeles

    re: the "Jena 6" the charges were amped up from aggravated assault to attempted murder by a D.A. who had previously indicated his intent to "end [the students] lives with his pen" - it was stated that he focused his attention on the black students section of a segregated assembly when he said this.

    Also, it has been stated that the victim of the beating went to a wedding rehearsal (or something having to do with a wedding) that same night after being treated for a concussion - so I don't know if he was beaten to the point of death.

    September 19, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Chris, KCMO

    Just when you think that Jesse Jackson couldn't be any more of a racist and a hypocrite, he opens his mouth again and proves you wrong. Apparently there's money in Jesse saying that Obama is acting white, because that's the only time he shows up and says anything.

    September 19, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Lawrence Webster

    Jesse Jackson is 'acting like he's racist'. Perhaps his sentiments towards Obama are a reflection of his own envy and failed bid for the White house. What is wrong with acting white Jesse? I feel for those kids though.

    September 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Keith, Clarksville, Tennessee

    Black leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama are the new biggoted racists of our time. Martin Luther King, Jr. would roll over in his grave if he knew the lengths these racists will go to for power and notoriety.

    September 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Lori - Richmond, VA

    For the record, I think Jesse's comments are off the mark and extremely ignorant. However, I'm posting because a lot of the comments made here indicate that most people aren't aware of the significance of the Jena 6.

    It's not just 6 "hooligans" "juvies" or "thugs" (as they've been described here) beating up on some kid. It's the fact that these 6 black kids were charged with "attempted murder" for essentially a street fight. I'm not sanctioning the violence but I think that before you charge 6 kids (most who had no previous records) with murder and sentence them to 20 years in prison, you have to look at the entire picture. That picture entails racial tension throughout the town, nooses hung in a tree, a fire at the school and all other sorts of background issues that had gone unchecked. Apparently, it wasn't until a white kid got put in the hospital that the problems were more than "pranks" and were taken seriously. What kind of message does that send as far as equal justice in this day and age?

    I don't care what Jesse thinks about Obama but I do think that this entire situation has been mishandled and is only now getting the attention it deserves.

    September 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. James, Lake city, Florida

    Sounds like another racist comment coming from another racist in the name of civil rights. I guess if I wear my pants hanging off my butt I'd be acting black?
    Besides Jesse is just trying to get another group of black people off the hook for a hate crime. Jesse you should have interveined before they did what they did since your so in tune, and no reason is good enough for ganging up on one person even if he called them a N!663r, should have done the responsible thing and told some one with some authority to take care of the problem.
    Get off the band wagon Jesse and take your little brother Al with you.

    September 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. gerald, london england

    and Jesse acts as if it's still 1965.

    September 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. C Flinn Portland OR

    Jesse Jackson is an idiot. Barack Obama is half white yet is expected to completely ingore that? He doesn't act "white" and he doesn't act "black" – he is simply himself. Why is he expected to choose? In this day and age, how many Americans are truly of one race? Maybe more than I know but I am not. And my my son is even more diverse. My son is Irish, English, Welsh, Mexican, Spanish, Cherokee and German. I would like to ask Jesse Jackson how my son should "act" and how he should identify himself as.

    September 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. K Thomas, Detroit, Michigan

    Jesse needs to get his $#!@ somewhere and sit it down!!! Every time he opens his mouth (or has a child out of wedlock) he proves us to be our own worst enemy. Has he ever thought of how many votes Obama may have lost because of his public endorsement of his candidacy?

    September 19, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. ChrisM, St. Louis, Missouri

    This country needs strong political leaders that are NOT influenced by racial tensions that are sparked by folks like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson... Obama is clearly educated enough to realize that this is in the hands of the capable judicial system... Boiling everything down to a race issue and then hypocritically protesting against Imus and the Jena 6 does more to divide our great nation than it does to solidify it... Jesse Jackson is a racist and a hypocrit that just needs to drift away and stop dividing our nation with his radical methods...

    September 19, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. ALT, Deatsville Alabama

    Jesse Jackson is irrelevant. When is he going to get a job and stop inciting racial tensions?

    September 19, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. P Carter, Houston, Texas

    I believe Mr. Obama is of mixed race heritage so why should anyone expect him to choose one over another as to how he is "acting"? What does "acting white" mean anyway? Perhaps he'd just like to be regarded as a person with mixed race heritage and not call attention to race. Once again, Mr. Jackson strives to keep the nation divided by such unmerited commentary.

    September 19, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. Tommy M., Mammoth Spring, AR

    One reader asks, "How does a black American act white?"

    Well, as so-called "Reverend" Jackson well knows... you purchase a $1 million dollar chandelier and hang it in your home; practice marriage - and family - infidelity... point fingers at anyone who is not the same race... and this is acting white.

    He knows this well... remember, Jesse, didn't your mother tell you that, when you point one finger at another, 3 more are pointing back at you and the thumb is accusing God?

    Be careful... lest you become the least among the spiritual brethren in heaven. Be very, very, careful...

    September 19, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. Wayne Miller, Lincoln City, Oregon

    I think Jessie Jackson is totaly out of line thinking that Mr. Obama should be playing to race in his his quest for the whitehouse, this is equally as bad as the republicans playing to religion, what is needed is a candidate who is responsive to Americans, not just a segment and sadly I feel Mr. Jackson has lost touch with the America we should be.

    September 19, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Nick, Peru Il

    and jesse jackson proves once again that the only racist people left in this country are the blacks. The want everything handed to them instead of working for what they want like everyone else. Jesse Jackson worthless and no one cares what he says or thinks.

    September 19, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Tom, Macon Ga

    Who is Barack Obama?
    > >
    > >
    Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu , Hawaii , to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel , Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita , Kansas Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii . When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father Returned to Kenya His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a radical Muslim From Indonesia.
    > >
    When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia . Obama attended a Muslim school in Jakarta . He also spent two years in a Catholic school. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He Is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school." Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best.
    > >
    In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over His son's education.
    >
    Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta . Wahabism is the radical teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.
    > >
    Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when seeking Major public office in the United States , Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.
    > >
    Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.
    > >
    Please forward to everyone you know. The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level.
    > >
    This is true.
    > >
    WOW...SCARY THOUGHT!!!.. Certainly something to think about!
    >

    September 19, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. chris NY, NY

    Christian you asked, so I'll tell you. You're wrong on this. And JB, your facts are inaccurate. The white boy was not beaten "almost to death". He was knocked unconcious, taken to the hospital and released. He attended a school function that very, same night; hardly a situation suggesting he was near death. Moreover, there is circumstantial proof at best that suggests these six individuals were the ones that did the beating.
    It is relevant for Obama to discuss this case because it speaks directly to the topic of race relations in this country. I encourage everyone to research this case more fully. White and Black students were involved in violent incidents, hate crimes were committed, yet the black students recieved far harsher treatment by a DA that lived up to his threat (made to black students in Jena), "I can end your life with the stroke of a pen".
    This is a clear example of institutional racism. Considering the DA is a public servant, this is a case of national significance particularly for a person that may become the first person of color to be voted President of our country.
    That is why this is a big deal.
    Also, is it not curious to anyone else (particularly the self proclaimed "news junkies") that this case has recieved so little press? Does anyone know the name Genarlow Wilson?

    September 19, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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