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. Sean, St. Charles, Il

    How does one "act white" or even black at that matter? I'm confused. Is (Rev.) Jesse Jackson part of a movement or an organization to confuse and confound? It appears to be working...

    September 19, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Patricia Chapman Ramsey, NJ

    Very interesting "double standard" here...once again. If the candidate was white and a white person said, "They're acting black" that white person would be accused of being racist and we would never hear the end of it!!!

    September 19, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Stephen, Memphis TN

    I am so incredibly tired of hearing this crap. Jesse Jackson needs to shut his mouth before some psycho assasinates him. He doesn't need to bash anyone running for president because last time I checked, he isn't within a million years of being president. Obama doesn't want to comment on a bunch of black kids getting let off the hook for beating the crap out of a white guy, big deal. He doesn't have to comment, and just because he is black, doesn't mean he has to share Jesse Jackson's view's that everything the black man does is the most amazing thing ever. That kid in Jena should be in jail, as should his friends. A fight is a fight, and a six on one assault deserves some jail time.

    September 19, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. jack, phoenix, AZ

    Since when has Jessie become Judge and Jury, although he thinks he has that right. We need a unification candidate, not rebel rousing, no nothings like Jackson and Sharpton. Maybe they could learn a thing or two from Obama about diplomacy.

    September 19, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. Anon.

    Acting white? Can someone please explain to me what that is? Next year's election could potentially be one of the most defining moments in American history. The last thing we need to see (or hear) is more trash from naysayers and people in the peanut gallery.

    I have not heard or read anything about the incident in Jena, but I do know that Jesse Jackson (and Al Sharpton for that matter) have done little to advance the cause for blacks in America.

    It is important to never forget the past in hopes never to repeat it, but dwelling on it does not bring hope. Jackson and Sharpton thrive on injustices and point out how 'backwards' the Nation is. Granted, racism will always be around because people will continue to be berthed into ignorant, primitive families, but isn't it time to look ahead.
    *Note to Al Sharpton* Rubbing shoulders and friendlying up to artists who glorify guns, promiscuity and murder isn't the best marketing idea for a pastor.

    The black community needs some new leaders who will look forward, see the problems, confront them AND who will bring a vision of hope for the future, and not dwell on the sins of America.

    September 19, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. anon, mid, west

    Racism is racism, regardless of which color hates whatever other color. There is NO such thing as "reverse-racism" – let's level this playing field a little bit. Jesse Jackson is a racist. Obama is a politician & acted as such, nothing more, nothing less – the entire Nation's healthcare is taking precidence over 1 of HUNDREDS of violent issues around the world – God Forbid!!! I just don't see this nation making much progress anywhere on wiping out hatred – it's sad & pathetic, at best.

    September 19, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Isn't Obama's mother white? What's wrong with Jackson..just how black do you have to be?

    September 19, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Chloe,Austin Tx

    Jesse Jackson it saddens me to see you resort to such immature tactics. You are an affront to African Americans. How dare you presume to speak for African Americans or anyone else for that matter. You are in no moral position to judge anyone. Your bid for the White House failed. Get over it. If you must campaign for Hillary please refrain from the school yard antics. If you are unable to do so...please just go away.

    September 19, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Mike - Clay City, KY

    Jesse Jackson should resign from whatever he is. Just like Don Imus was forced to resign. Jackon's statement is RACIST and it should not be condone.

    September 19, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. John, Topeka, KS

    It's difficult to take someone seriously who claims to want equality for African-Americans, then does his best to promote differences between the races. Mr. Jackson, start judging people on who they are, and not what color their skin is.

    Uh oh....I better get going. I have to start acting white, or start acting 50 yrs old, or start acting 6 foot 4.

    September 19, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Mike, TX

    I hope that Barack does not respond to this. He should not give any value to this ignorant remark. People need to come together instead of being divisive. Once we come together, then we can get rid of injustice when it rears its ugly head.

    September 19, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. bukky, Baltimore, MD

    I am hoping that Jesse Jackson made this comment just to get some media to pay attn to the Jena 6

    In response to JB Boston MA

    The white kid that got beaten up, in the two weeks before the incedent
    1) Hung a noose on a tree as a threat
    2) Threatened these 6 kids with a gun on school property
    3) Beat up/Physically Assualted another black in the school.

    How was he punished for all this?.. A 3 day suspension.

    The kid that got beat up DID NOT almost die, even though his loving mother seems to believe so. The kid was back in school within a few days.

    How can you charge a kid with Assualt with a deadly weapon... and the weapon is tennis shoe, and say its not racially motivated.


    September 19, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Andrew Rhodes, Wilmington NC

    Ya know, I just realized:

    The Racist Jesse Jackson made a Racist statement.

    Why isn't the Racist Al Sharpton demanding that the Racist Jesse Jackson be censored, as he did with Imus?

    Oh, wait, it's because they are both Racists against the same groups!

    Ah, so their so called religions support Racial bigotry and the advocation of hypocrisy. Ah, it's becoming clearer now.

    Sounds to me that they worship demon-pretenders-to-the-throne-of-Heaven rather than any honorable, ethical God.

    The way to end bigotry and hate isn't to commit it but rather condemn it in ALL its forms.


    September 19, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Erik

    What the --! Are you kidding me? Obama is working hard to do something about equality for all and instead of working together Jesse Jackson is trying to bring him down! Is he secretly working for Hillary Clinton campaign? This is jealousy and sabotage happening before our eyes!

    As a black man I can say until we all work together on various fronts nothing will be accomplished. Did Jesse ever bother to think that Obama might feel he is (was) such an effective leader that he would let him shine for a bit while but continue to add support! In fact Obama has spoken out about this case! The very thing these leaders are telling our children (that its okay to have diverse points of views and you don't have to be ghetto to be black) is the one thing Jesse is tearing down. This is a slap in the face to Obama and all black people!

    I’m so disappointed in Jesse right now I don’t know how to end this message…

    September 19, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. Angelo, San Diego, CA

    So there was outrage when Barack was not "black enough." So where's the outrage when they say he is "acting white." I know Jesse Jackson has good intentions in defending his community and all... but in all honesty I see him as one of the most predjudice leaders we have out there. Obama is focusing on trying to be the president. I think he might have bigger issues to worry about than 6 juveniles. If they were 6 white kids Im sure Jesse Jackson wouldn't have any problem with Obama focusing on his run for office.

    September 19, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. th CA

    All Jackson has managed to do is to prove that he is a racist.

    September 19, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Al, Columbus Georgia

    Most of you that have responded about the Jena6 in your posts really need to do your homework. They Caucasian that got beat up was not "nearly killed"; as a matter of fact, he was released from thehosptial the same day as the attack, and according to reports/articles on ther issue, they jumped him after racial ephitets were hurled at him.

    for most of you all to state falsehoods on this subject, really makes me understand how jacked up our society is. It's the Millenium, and we have Caucasian students apparently "pranking" African Amercian srudents at a high school with nooses over a tree? Then berate the boys verbally with racial tirades? Please. Please do your research before you speak, as to not look as ingnorant as Jesse Jackson.

    Speaking of which, Jackson is a chump. I am of African American descent, and he does not represent me in the fight for equality. He has paid his dues, and in his former glory fought for equality and civil rights, but now, he says things to place himself back in the sptolight. Obama does have a penchant for "switching his demeanor" when he speaks with certain types of people, but that's an issue he'll have to contend with when everything goes down to the wire. In any event, Jackson really needs to put his money where his mouth is, and take up the slack that he feels Obama's not doing, when it comes to the Jena 6.

    September 19, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. Jim, Waxahachie, TX

    When's the last time anyone has cared about what Jesse Jackson says? If the situation was reversed and 6 white boys ganged up and beat a black boy then he'd be out there spewing his racism and hate crime rhetoric all over again.
    The claim that Barack is "acting white" is ludicrous. I think he knows that if you break the law by committing a violent crime, that there is going to be a price to pay regardless of the color of your skin.

    September 19, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Rene Malibu CA.

    The irony is that Jesse Jackson seems to have worked so hard for racial equality yet he slings out racial slurs (He's acting white) with the same venomous force of a white supremacist. You can't be anti-racist and a racist. Pick one!

    September 19, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Sally Lanehart Monterey, Louisiana

    jena six were not arrested on murder charges as your atricle states

    September 19, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. tom, ny ny

    how does jackson get away with this...he is a moron. He talks about stopping racism, but last time i checked, if i ever accused someone of "acting black" i would be accused of stereotyping (a very common form on racism). when are we as Americans going to stop listening to idiots

    September 19, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Matt Boston, MA

    Any individual commiting a crime should have justice served. The white students in the altercation with the blacks, the black students in the altercation with the whites and if true, the DA that threatened the boys with the end your life with the stroke of a pen.

    The saddest thing in the world is it took 33 years since the death of a great man and leader, MLK Jr., to make this country seem colorless.....even though it was only for a brief period. Yup, 9/11 happened and no one seem to remember color or race for a brief period. We were all americans together for that moment in time, whites helping blacks and blacks helping whites. Maybe someday we all will realize we all come from the same place....our mothers womb.

    September 19, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Lynne, Dallas, Texas

    The title Reverend should be stripped from Jesse Jackson – his prejudicial comments are a disgrace to all people, whether they be black or white and they can never serve the greater good! He is appalling!

    September 19, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. JIm Philpot, KY

    At least we know Jesse is not ACTING stupid. He is a racist.

    September 19, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Mike Gibbons, Raleigh, NC

    Talk about being irrelevant... Jesse Jackson is completely irrelevent. A fight among a bunch of teenagers is not a Presidential issue.
    Mike G.

    September 19, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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