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. Steve, Chicago, Illinois

    Jackson & his "bro'" Sharpton are a discredit to their race. They both could be doing more for themselves & humanity working a soup line or teaching kids how to read & write instead of spouting off on issues they're both ill-informed on & already biased about in the public media.

    September 19, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. frank harrell, brentwood tn

    lol. when are we supposed to see color, and when are we not? I remain confused.

    September 19, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Danny, Miami, FL

    Acting white? You mean, not ghetto? What's wrong with that?

    I have friends that have been accused of this which is totally absurd. Just because you're black and educated, doesn't mean that you're 'white'.
    Why is it so wrong for a black man to be well spoken? Why does that make him white? Are you saying that you have to speak ghetto and slang to be considered black? Amazing.

    September 19, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    And thats supposed to be a bad thing? He knows how to speak the language and does so authoritatively and pursuasively. Great. I'm no Obama supporter, but give the man his due. As for the case at the center of the controversy I have just one question. What would Jesse's position be if it had been a bunch of white kids beating up on a black kid? Yeah – we all know the answer to that. Both he and the "Rev." Al would be calling for their heads. Racism goes both ways.

    September 19, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Bill Kaluza, Denver, Colorado

    I never thought about it much, but since I'm white, I must act like a white person. Fair enough. It follows that Latinos must act like Latinos, and Asians must act like Asians, and African-Americans must act like African-Americans. And if the Rev. Jackson actually believes this nonsense, he's not nearly as smart as I thought he was. But that's just me, thinking like a white person.

    September 19, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Kerri, South Elgin, IL

    What a big surprise from Jesse Jackson...doesn't he realize racism works both ways? Shame on him for calling the first serious black candidate for president "too white." No matter his race, Obama is an inspiring and genuine individual, and one of the only people I'd actually trust in our government.

    September 19, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Del, Charlotte NC

    It’s obvious the people like JB from Boston and Christian from NY really don’t what they are talking about in regards to the facts of this whole incident. The allegations that these 6 boys almost killed the white boy they were beating are false. The white boy was treated for minor scrapes and bruises at the hospital later that evening and then released. Christian from NY also states that the white boy that was beaten had nothing to do with this whole incident suggesting that these boys jumped on the white kid for no reason is also false. The white kid was taunting a friend of the 6 black kids that was beaten up by another white kid (the two white boys were friends) while others threw BEER BOTTLES at him for attending what was perceived as a “whites only party”. There are reports that the white kid that initiated the assault on the black kid was only charged with misdemeanor assault while no other charges were filed against the kids who threw BEER BOTTLES at the black boy, while the 6 black kids were charged with felony attempted murder which claimed they used their SHOES as a weapon. ANYONE who can’t see that this as a racial issue is in a serious state of denial. Why aren’t felony charges brought on the kids that threw BEER BOTTLES at the black kid? Now I am not saying these kids should not be punished for a school fight, but to be charged with felony attempted murder charges while the white kid is only getting charged with a misdemeanor is ridiculous!!! People really need to read up on this story before forming their opinions…..As far as the Jesse Jackson comments; Just let it go Jesse! Obama is not the issue here!!!

    September 19, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Joey W. Austin, TX

    Wow Jesse. Congratulations on delivering an inappropriate remark at an inappropriate time. Double score. You are so right Jesse – I also hate how Obama is unifying races, ages and genders. How dare he? If Obama had his way, you'd have no one to hate.

    September 19, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Kevin, Seattle, WA

    If the Black community wants to ever advance beyond their current status, they should do themselves a favor and get rid of Jesse Jackson. He does nothing but HURT the Black community with his racist unamerican antics. He seems to enjoy keeping his people in the mindset of the racial 60s era, preaching and instigating HATE.

    September 19, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Cathy, Monroe, Ohio

    First of all I am not a fan of Obama, and I am certainly not a fan of Mr. Jackson, but I am so sick and tired of racial comments of every kind! What is it to act white? To act black? Aren't we all Americans? And this comment came from someone who is supposed to be a minister. I think it's time for Christians to stand upon the platform of Christ where there is no black or white and stop trying to sow division between the races. Wrong and right should be the same regardless of color.

    September 19, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Eduardo, Miami, Florida

    I think the Reverend Jackson should cease capitalizing on reverse discrimination. Blacks have proudly succeeded in many, many ways, in a supposed white man's world.

    September 19, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. We're not as dumb as you think, Hillary

    Politics of Triangulation:

    1. Hillary is criticized by the citizens of Jena for not speaking out against the injustices.

    2. Barack and Michelle Obama are very vocal about Jena, but don't get much press.

    2. Hillary's campaign gets Jesse Jackson to say something controversial (which he now denies) and it makes headlines everywhere.

    3. Bill Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Jena tomorrow and be the "white" knight to the black community.

    4. Today's headlines focus on Jesse Jacksons criticism of Obama.

    5. Tomorrows headlines focus on Bill Clintons visit to Jena.

    6. Everyone forgets that Hillary sat on her thumbs when asked to speak out.

    7. Do we fall for this clever campaign strategy?

    September 19, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. LaDonna, Atlanta, GA

    Jesse Jackson is a racist of the worst kind, pure and simple. His diatribes only serve to polarize, divide and incite violence; his words and actions embarrass our good nation, and shame the US on a global scale. Go away, Mr. Jackson, and take Sharpton with you.

    September 19, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Bird, Charlotte, NC

    Why are people pretending there are no cultural differances between blacks and whites? I assume Jesse is saying Barack is embracing white culture.

    In any event Barack identifies and lives as a black man and he doesn't act white, in my opinion, although he has every right to as a biracial man. He acts like the educated, intelligent exceptional man that he is. And yes as a politician he screws up from time to time. They all do.

    His statement was good enough for me. I wouldn't expect him to travel to Jena to fight for 6 young men that beat one young man ruthlessly. It was not a simple school yard fight and we have to stop excusing this kind of behavior.

    I am all for us putting effort into improving race relations in Jena and other segregated areas throughout the country, but I am not going to defend bad deeds in retaliation for other bad deeds. EVERYONE involved in the racial unrest in Jena is wrong. White and Black. The argument should be that the White folks should face severe punishment for their violent acts as well. That's the real problem in Jena.

    September 19, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    i dont why jesse jackson is even invited to things, or why people even listen to him. he fights racism, but he is the most racist person i have ever heard of.

    September 19, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Joe, Phoenix, AZ

    When will this crap stop? If a prominent white celebrity accused another white presidential hopeful of "acting black", that would ruin his career and he would be hung out to dry by the media. Jesse Jackson only sees in black and white. He is as much of a racist as Michael Richards and Mel Gibson combined.

    September 19, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. T. Brown, Central Coast California

    I am so sick of Jesse Jackson! He wants to be the spokesperson for the black community, but I do not know what black community he represents! He does not represent me, nor most of the blacks I know. How can you accuse another black person of "acting white"? Would someone explain to me what "acting black" is? Babies out of wedlock, high prison rates, high dropout rates, black women 4 times more likely to have an abortion, booty shaking, man sharing...the list goes on. Instead of tearing Obama down because he has a better shot at actually winning than you ever did, try taking some cues from him on creating a positive environment for EVERYONE regardless of their skin color.

    September 19, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Steve , Sumter, SC

    Until Mr. Jackson challenges the notion of Bill and Hillary Clinton being the FIRST Black president and potentially SECOND BLACK president, I will gladly ignore him! A TRUE reverend will seek to heal with the love of Christ, not divide with hate!

    September 19, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Barry, Phoenix, Arizona

    Jesse Jackson's comments about Obama show one of the many reasons he never stood a chance to be president. He has always only been a black candidate and has only seen the world through "black" tinted glasses. His business is race and his sexual dalliance which produced an out of wedlock child shows he is no more fit to speak for the nation's blacks than O.J. Simpson is.

    September 19, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Vanessa, Chicago Illinois

    If a white man got up and said someone was "acting black" there would be a huge uproar about discrimination in this country. Why is Jesse so untouchable (Him and Rev. Sharpe)

    September 19, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Brian, Decatur, GA

    As a young African American male, I do not, nor have I ever considered Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton leaders. The persistent "race-baiting" that these two gentlemen constantly instigate is troubling because it clouds the central issue. This issue is injustice. If a man's (meaning mankind) rights are infringed upon because of any issue, it is unjust. The ultimate goal of Americans is for all of its citizens to be treated equal. If you only speak up for one group, then you are part of the same injustice that you claim to be against. Black Civic Leaders should concentrate on being Civic Leaders and lead by example.

    September 19, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Monique, Overland Park, KS

    Correction: Jena wouldn't have happened if white students hadn't hung or painted nooses on a tree after black students sat under it.

    September 19, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Terri Calhoun

    I cannot believe there is such an uproar over this. The white kids were punished but then the blacks decided to take matters into their own hands. I am so sick of the black and white issue. No matter what color you are if you do something wrong you should be punished. My kids are white and go to school with black kids, the white kids ALWAYS get punished more than the blacks for fear of being accused of being racist. Blacks should realize its not always because of color, your actions speak louder than your color does.

    September 19, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Talulah D., Atlanta, GA

    Jesse Jackson is an adulterous jerk who does not speak for black folks – me in particular.

    September 19, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Patsy Enid OK

    Color is not the issue with Obama. For heaven's sake, Jena, this is 2007 – we should not even have segregation – the tree should not be considered for black or white – it should be a tree for "students". Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton need to shut up, go home, and stay there. Those two are the worst agitators there are. Those two are the main reason we still have racial issues.

    September 19, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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