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.

Full story

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (828 Responses)
  1. Tee, Dallas

    Jesse get somewhere and sit down!
    You are out of order for your comments. What the is "acting white"? That's the problem now.

    September 19, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Carolyn, St. Louis MO

    Jesse's just upset because Obama has the ability to articulate words when he is speaking.

    September 19, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. kathy birmingham, al

    It's amazing that this man is able to say the things he does and no one says a word.
    If a white person claimed obama as acting black, there would be a major crying out about racial comments etc.
    GROW UP!
    jackson has nothing but black on his mind. shame on him. he should love all colors.

    September 19, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Dominick, Los Angeles California (where else?)

    What, exactly, is "acting white"? Or "acting black" for that matter?

    This is an absurdity that should have gone out with the last century. When JJ says "acting white", just which "white" is he referring to? The Queen of England, a coal miner in North Carolina, a French chef, a Russian ballet dancer, a homeless man in Detroit, a nun in Dublin, Ireland?

    As for "acting black"–who's that? A stockbroker in New York? A newpaper editor in Georgia? The president of Kenya? An opera singer in Australia? Morgan Freeman?

    People of all races should be insulted by this. Wake up, Jesse, there's a lot more to human beings, their opinions, sympathies and politics than the Color Line.


    September 19, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. Joe from the 'O'.

    @Christian, From Selden.

    This is a racial issue. The real story is this. Three Black students asked their school principal if they could sit under what was labeled the 'White' (named for the predominately white students that hung out there) tree. The principal agreed and they sat there. The next day, three nooses were hung from the tree. This incident incited fighting to break out. The white student that was beaten up in the fight was involved in the hanging of the nooses. The six Black students are being charged with attempted murder in what amounted to a high school fight. The students have spent 10 mos in jail, while the white students that were involved in the hate crime of hanging nooses have had NO discplinary action taken against them. This is a result of the ongoing racial inequality not just in Jena, LA (LA has the highest number of recorded lynchings in U.S. History by the way) but across America. That is why Blacks are travelling by the busload to Jena to peacefully assemble and protest the inequality there as a start. Sweeping racism under the rug will not eliminate it. It should be confronted and eradicated.

    September 19, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Zack

    Jesse Jackson is a has-been and should be irrelevant. What? Is he saying Obama is not 'black-enough'?

    September 19, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I would compare Jesse's attack on Obama to today's Hip-Hop in general. Today's Hip-Hop unfortunately is more about self indulgence, and therefore is not truly in line with what it was in its beginning: music in support of people and unity, with a positive message.

    So on that note Jesse: Come on! Give a brother a break! Offer support, not opposition. If you don't support your own people, you are working against them. In this case, everyone in the nation can see it.

    September 19, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Mike, TX

    The facts of the case show that these (black) kids beat up a(white)kid who was involved in the beating of another kid (black). The (black) kid was first beaten up because he wanted to sit underneath a tree that was named The Tree of Knowledge. The (black) asked school's Vice Principal is he could sit there because the Tree of Knowledge had become a popular hangout for the (white) kids and he did not want to cause any problems. The Vice principal said the kid could sit there, just like anyone else. Once the (black) kid wanted to sit there, that is when the nooses came out.

    The messed up part about the real case is that the real problem stems from people wanting to enjoy the rights and priviledges as everyone else. Until one group of people can enjoy the rights/priviledges as everyone else does, then unfortunately these occurrences will continue to happen. Jesse, please stop talking.He claims that "If I were a candidate, I'd be all over Jena,". If he really wants to help, he should go and push the real issue of the case, which is inequality. Leave Barack alone, plain and simple.

    September 19, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Stephen

    This man is a criminal, who cares what he thinks about anything.

    September 19, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Michael, Houston, Tx

    Classifying people as "acting white," as Mr. Jackson did, is just as racist as calling rap "black music." Please don't label people or their actions!!

    September 19, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Ann

    For someone (Jesse Jackson) who is "anti" racism, that was sure a "racist" remark about Obama.
    Funny how one can change their stand for convienence.

    September 19, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Jessica, New York, NY

    Jesse Jackson is a racist pig. period. end of story. he only further divides those with different skin colors.

    September 19, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    I don't believe Jesse Jackson said this. If you actually read the article even he says he didn't say it. He was saying that all the candidates haven't been outspoken enough on the case.

    To me, Obama's statements on the case seem totally appropo. If Jackson did say "Obama is acting white" or if CNN is purpetrating a rumor and making a scandalous headline as they've so often done on these pages, all they're trying to do is be divisive and to sabotage the best hope this country has for a real future, Barack Obama.

    Time after time, Obama makes sense. I don't see him as white, black, purple or whatever. I see him as a man that would make a wonderful president. Time after time when people critique him, try to knock him down a peg, it only makes him seem better to me.

    If indeed it is acting white to be rational, to have a nuanced and balanced view of the world, then so be it. But you and I know that's not the case. He isn't acting white, or black, or whatever. He's actually just been telling things like they are and that's such a rarity in politics that I can barely believe it.

    Jesse Jackson should seriously be in New Orleans, screaming his head off that two years later there are still refugee camps and no housing for blacks and that formerly black neighborhoods are becoming lily white because blacks can't afford to move back.

    He should also be talking about how the Republican party doesn't want a black New Orleans, because it was one the one bastion of Democrats in the South and threatened to turn the whole state Blue.

    Obama is a fresh breath of air and I truly don't believe ANYTHING anyone says is going to keep him away from the nomination.

    September 19, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. J Willimson, Buffalo, NY

    Have the "Revs" (Jesse and Al) apoligized to the Duke Lacrose team yet?

    September 19, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Obama, here in the USA!

    if you are eduacated, Jesse doenst want to talk to you. If you are uneducated, he wants to help. WTF??? What a double standard. Why dont you get off your lazy ass and help your community for the GOOD. JERK> AND GET A REAL JOB AND A LIFE!!!

    September 19, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Aaron, South Bend, IN

    As a white man, I would ask Jesse: "what's wrong with being white? Isn't Obama half white? Can't he act the way hs sees fit?"

    As an American and an Obama supporter, I would say to Jackson: "Judge Obama on the content of his character. What's important is not the color of his act, but the content of his character."

    September 19, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Louis valykeo Louisville, Ohio

    What does he mean acting white. Sounds to me like Jackson is a racist or promoting racism. How about acting human and forgetting this black-white thing.

    September 19, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Alicia

    Al a Latina voter I will say that any candidate who comes to me speaking in Spanish or asking me to vote because he or she is black, white or brown I will feel insulted, I vote for a candidate based on his/her experience and capability. Period. Jesse Jackson is a racist for making those commentes about not acting white.

    September 19, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. Fatboi,Alexandria,La.

    I have mixed emotions about the whole jena six issue. I'm a 34 year old (black american male)not african american have not seen any parts of africa and don't want too but that is another story! Anyway all persons involved are to blame but the one person that could have nipped all this in the bud is the district attorney if he would not have stepped in you would not have all of this ruckus. The princiapal had issued his verdict on the white kids that hung the noose but the district attorney stepped in and decided to take over and that's when things really got out of hand. And I also blame the parents of all persons involved becasue if you don't teach your children to be racist no of this would have happen (who taught the white kids to tie a noose dam sure wasn't the school) know go figure. And a lot of you are right Jesse Jackson needs to go and sit his tired ??? down somewhere. Racism in this country has not gone away it just hides it's self a little better then it did years ago. It's everywhere little towns and big cities.

    September 19, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. lavelle Rochester,ny

    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.

    Posted By Brian, Decatur, GA : September 19, 2007 2:54 pm

    ^^^Couldnt have said it any better myself.

    September 19, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Susan, Harlan, Kentucky

    What the hell does he mean by "acting white"? If that were in reverse order and a white person accused another of "acting black"; they would be considered racist!!!

    September 19, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Tina, Helena MT

    I am so sick of hearing "black" "white" "purple" "red" etc... Call it like it is. Can't we all just act like an "AMERICAN!?" A crime is a matter who did it. Jessie quit making excuses and grow up, to be an AMERICAN. You waste so much of your time pointing fingers at everyone else and what you feel is wrong. Do something more productive, like uniting our country, instead of diving it. We are so much stronger as one! By the way...I'm black and white! But my blood bleeds red, just like everyone elses.

    September 19, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. Staci, Aiken, SC

    Is this not Jesse Jackson CREATING a race issue?

    September 19, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. Chris, Orlando

    Who the hell is MOS DEF? I guess I'm not black enough......

    September 19, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Chilly, Dallas Tx.

    All of you should b ashamed of yourself, Jesse marched side by side with the late great Marting Luther King, Jesse is a civil rights pioneer, and if your black and making comments against Jesse you should smack yourselfd in the mouth and F.Y.I. the white boy that got the crap beat out of him, was released from the hospital the same day so he wasn't that injured, but go ahead White America laugh it up case ya'll finally got O.J. you've been trying from day one, and as for the the culture that glorifies sexism, violence and gangsterism, that's how America was created, we're a product of our enviroment, white folk taught us all that stuff, PEACE.

    September 19, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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