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. Chay, Charleston SC

    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.

    Posted By Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA : September 19, 2007 12:42 pm

    Jena started when white kids hung up noose on a tree and the DA ignored that. Jena started when a white kid brought a gun to school and the DA still did nothing. Jena started when some white kids jumped a black kid 1st and 6 black kids fought back and that same DA now wants to press charges for attempted murder.

    The only thing the black kids started was asking the principal if they can sit under the "white" tree. I guess your point is saying they should not have asked to sit under the tree which you are right. They should NOT HAVE HAD TO ASK to sit under a tree in the U.S.A.!!

    September 19, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. christian, selden, ny

    chris NY, NY

    Thanks for the response because i would like to know if there is something i was missing with this case. now if there was beatings on black students as well this would be a different story. i dont think the issue with this is IF the kid beat the white kid down its more that he DID beat him down and he is being punished too harshly. i can understand the protest for the harsh prosecution, but wasnt the kid that was accused already have a rap sheet for assault? i mean wouldnt that mean that he should have been punished a little more harshly? im so confused with this case because when i heard about it i was automatically siding with the jena 6 kids but when i read what actually happened i didnt understand how people are looking at these kids as heroes...they committed a crime REGARDLESS of why or what the punishment was. we cant sit here rallying around them like they are standing up for black people or for justice. and its also regardless that the kid got OUT of the hospital the same night its more important that he was put IN The hospital right?? i mean my wife gave birth to my son and she was out of the hospital the next day thats just what hospitals do.....anyway somebody needs to show me why these kids are being glorified...because i still dont see it. you say there is "circumstantial" evidence but the kids are claiming this white kid was calling them racial names and that justifies what they did, but isnt that circumstantia as well....it looks like people are only looking at this case in a very familiar and comfortable way. there is a huge double standard when it comes to racism in this country. the way jesse jackson can say OBAMA is "acting white" and its ok. but that DJ calls black girls "nappy hoes" and its a HUGE uproar of racial injustice...can we work on humanity please and understand not everything is about race. because the more we cry racism the more strength we give it.....

    September 19, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Chad, Minneapolis, MN

    Once again, Jesse Jackson makes a comment about "white" people and that is ok but when a comment is made about an african american person he is the first to scream racism! Jackson needs to shut it! Racism is an issue in this country because of people like Jackson!

    September 19, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Rick, Sioux City IA

    I do not believe that it would be acceptable for a white person to say that Barack Obama is "acting black", so why is it acceptable for Jesse Jackson to say he is "acting white"? These people (ones who are of the same racial descent that make comments such as this one) are creating their own racial diversity. You would think that people who are supposedly fighting for equal rights, would be EXTREMELY excited that we may have our first black president. Instead, these people (who do not like to be referred to as "they"), are trying to prohibit a significant event in our nations history.

    September 19, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Tom, Austin TX.

    why is it that everytime a black person is punished, they're being targeted? jesse jackson is a waste of space. im surprised no one has assassinated him yet. but its just like while some cities are trying to make "sagging" illegal, black people say they are being targeted? pull up your pants and you wont be targeted. its disgusting. white people couldnt get away with any of this stuff.

    September 19, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Chris, Wilmington, DE

    Just another racist comment from a racist.

    September 19, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Randell Perry GTMO CUBA

    So just because he is black means that he has to act like the sterotypical black person as betrayed in the media suchas on BET? Was'nt there a demonstration about this very same thing the other day. Jesse Jackson is wrong on this and I don't support OBAMA

    September 19, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. J. Harrington De.

    Jesse,Whats wrong with being white?

    September 19, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Tracey, Phoenix Arizona

    Jesse Jackson needs to shut up. I haven't heard one thing he is doing positive for the people affected by Katrina, the Dunbar Rape or anything bad that is happening to Black/Ethnic people. What has he done to help but now wants to critize someone. Why wasn't he elected President? He needs to check himself before he starts running his mouth. We need to have better representation for out Black Community. Both Jackson and Sharpton leave allot to be desired in both looks and dreams!

    September 19, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Cassandra Grand Island, NY

    The nooses were inappropriate and racist,6 kids beating up one kid is also uncalled for and 6 blacks against 1 white is also racist. There is no justification. Let me see...a black man yells "cracker" and gets beat up by 6 white guys for it...what would Mr jackson say to that. I can assure you would hear nothing from him. The 6 boys need to pay for what they have done regardless of why. Their actions are criminal and you can bet if it was 6 whites beating up 1 black, Mr jackson wouldn't be spouting off...racist is racist...funny the ones that are screaming racism don't recognize their own. SHUT UP MR JACKSON...turn that critical eye on yourself.

    September 19, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. Marty, Boone NC

    Jesse does nothing but make racism worse.

    September 19, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Van, Las Vegas Nevada

    This idiot is a total racist. Could you imagine if any white would of said that someone was acting black. Jackson and the other fool Sharpton would be calling for their resignation. We should call for Jackson's resignation, oh wait he doesn't have a job. He just tries to cause race issues so he has something to do

    September 19, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. Mark, Raleigh, NC

    I demand a public apology from Jackson for his racist comment! I think that is what he would demand, right? His track record of race allegations has been impeccable lately...Duke lax players, Michael Vick, now this...After he cried racism, where was he after the Duke players were declared innocent...where was he after Michael Vick admitted to allegations...exactly...he ran to the next media outlet that would give him attention...Get ready...he is soon to jump on the OJ is innocent bandwagon again.

    September 19, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. tjp, Valley Forge , PA

    Imagine if a statured white person said of another white that he "...was acting too black..." Jackson and Sharpton are nothing less than race baiters who make a nice, comfortable living for themselves off of the folks they claim to represent and help. They do us all a diservice by perpetuating the victim mentality. How can anyone believe anything they say??

    September 19, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Kwadwo

    When a black tries to act write,go to school and get a profession they say u act white.
    this is becomming more destructive for young black men.

    September 19, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Wendy, Tampa, Florida

    Mr. Jackson fails to see that by not politicizing a very important issue such as Jena, Sen. Obama is preserving if not elevating its validity. Unfortunately Mr. Jackson doesn't realize that his name tied to anything causes many Americans to roll their eyes instead of pay closer attention.

    September 19, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. Brian, Boston, MA

    Complete Double Standard. As a caucasian, if I said a white man was acting black, I would be considered a racist.

    September 19, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Joe from the 'O'.

    @Terri Calhoun,

    Welcome to America, Terri. I will say this, the white kids were not punished for the hate crimes they committed at all. This was a high school fight... Since when do kids get tried as adults for attempted murder for a high school fight in which no one was seriously injured? What if it was your kid that was being punished like this? Wouldn't you be screaming injustice at the top of your lungs?

    September 19, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Frank Wagner, Cape Haze, FL

    Time for Jesse to retire. He goes on about racism but is a racist.

    September 19, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. Anonymous, VA

    Please get your facts straight before passing judgement on those young men. There were several other incidents in which they were attacked by that student and his friends, attacked by grown men, and had loaded guns pointed at them. The student that was beaten up in the final incident that lead to the arrest suffered minor injuries and was released by the hospital within 6 hours. I've seen the pictures from the party he went to after leaving the hospital. He certainly was not near death and did not suffer near fatal injuries, otherwise he would not have been released by the hospital.

    September 19, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Archie C. Williams, Riverdale, Georgia

    People hold on and understand this is a South Carolina news paper that made the comment not Mr. Jackson. I would think it is the racist that is trying to divide this country and not Mr. Jackson. This is a man who could have been killed in the 60's fighting for rights as a human being and not a animal as we were looked at then. And now all you can remember about him is something negative what ashame all this man has done over the years not trying to be political right but justice right. And yes, he did endorse Obama for president. Look some where else for the down fall of this country not Mr. Jackson. And yes race did cause the problem again not the young men who acted but the actions before the action. Lets be humanly right. Matters not about what the person has done but what the person is during at the time.

    September 19, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. Antony, Dallas TX

    All of us have spoken about this non-sense by Jesee jackson and it seems like he was listening or reading the post. He has just reaffirmed his support for Obama.

    From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
    The Obama campaign just forwarded us a statement from Jesse Jackson, who reiterated his support for Obama, despite being quoted by the Columbia State saying that Obama is "acting like he's white" for not speaking more forcefully regarding the racial incident in Jena, LA.

    "I reaffirm my commitment to vote for Sen. Barack Obama," Jackson says in the statement. "He has remarkably transcended race, however the impact of Katrina and Jena makes America's unresolved moral dilemma of race unavoidable. I think Jena is another defining moment of the issue of race and the criminal justice system. This issue requires direct and bold leadership. I commend Sen. Obama for speaking out and demanding fairness on this defining issue. Any attempt to dilute my support for Sen. Obama will not succeed."

    September 19, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. Greg, Lancaster, pa

    Isn't this the same group that said he wasn't really an african american? Now they're saying he's acting white? Come on! They just can't make up their minds. Obama is Obama, a presidential candidate. He wants to make America better just like every other candidate. Jessie's just upset because people like Obama better. Sheesh! Get over it.

    September 19, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. Lisa, Los Angeles, CA

    Jackson's comment is incredibly narrow-minded, and just adds to the stereotypes of blacks in this country. He should know better! And why is he singling out Obama? It seems to me none of the Democratic candidates have said anything particularly striking about these horrible events. Frankly, I find Jackson's popping up at times like these to smack of opportunism, which is a shame, because these are genuinely distressing issues which deserve attention, but his spin on them turns people off and detracts from their seriousness.

    September 19, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Brad, CA

    I find Jesse Jackson just as irresponsible and annoying as Al Sharpton; Al just has a better sense of humor.

    September 19, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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