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. Dee Decatur Illinois

    He is acting white because? He has a real chance to make a difference and is able to articulate ideas and connect them with regards to issues that have nothing to do with black or white? I sense a bit of jealosy and a lot of regrets in Mr. Jacksons comments.

    September 19, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Dan Chicago, IL

    If a white said another white was acting black do you think Jesse and his posse would cry racisim???

    September 19, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Ralph, Spartanburg, SC

    Terry Calhoun, anyone that doesn't think this is a big deal is an idiot and probably a racist themselves.

    And to all of the posters who are piling on Jesse and Al.....think about this....if it was not for Jesse and Al, this obvious injusticed would have gone unchecked and the lives of 6 american boys would lay in ruins thanks to an over-zealous and bigoted DA and judge. They both need to resign their positions immediately. We don't need clowns like Nifong and these jokers in our justice system.
    Andre from Seattle......great post.

    September 19, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Shane New York, NY

    I do agree that it was inappropriate for Jesse Jackson to make that comment. However, his inability to distinguish between what is appropriate and inappropriate is exactly why his presidential campaigns have failed. I just wish that he wasn’t making such comments during this time with the presidential seat finally in the grasp of black Americans. There shouldn’t be one black American that isn’t supporting Barack Obama in America right now. He may just be another slimy politician, but that’s not for me to say because what I am focused on is what he can do for the black community right now. What he can do is open a door that has been closed for far too long, the door to the White House. It is far more important for blacks to get one of our own in the white house right now than it is to criticize our candidate.

    September 19, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. Yvonne F., Lafayette,La.

    I have been Senator Obama's campaign and I do not see any signs of him acting "white" as supposedly the Rev.Jessie Jackson described him. It would be like calling Mr. Jackson "WHITE" and we all know he isn't and never acted like one. No, Mr. Obama comes from a long like of african ancestors, his father was african and we cannot have more black than that and I think I can safely say Mr.Obama is proud of whom he is and where he comes from and would never want to be anyone or anything else. He loved his black family and what they stand for. He is very concerned about the Jena situation and care about what happens there, but he is a very busy man these days and is concentrating on this presidential campaign,I know if he could he would be out there at the rally with everyone else tomorrow. Please do not let this misquote damage Mr.Obama's chance for the White House.

    September 19, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Jay, Park Forest IL

    its amazing how many racist/prejudice people there still are. The charges against the Jena 6 were extreme under the circumstances. Also note that in several prior incidents of white on black assaults the whites got off. That isn't a fair justice system. That is a total joke. Anybody who doesn't see the problem with all this is probably prejudiced or racist themselves. Furthermore anybody who criticizes Jackson because he criticizes another black leader for not speaking up on the issue is either small minded, or simply has a personal issue with Jackson which makes their thinking ability on the issue corrupted.

    September 19, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Chris, Philadelphia PA

    You know the portrayal of the old racist white man that grew up in a segregated world, and now has an uneducated and uncouth appearance because of his inability to adjust to a more modern world? Well Jesse Jackson keeps moving in that direction. If I were an African-American politician, Jackson is the last person I would want to be backing me. He IS a racist, and his motivations have degenerated into his own perceived glorification and publicity.

    September 19, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American. I am not particularly fond of divisions by race.

    But this is exactly the point I have been advocating since the beginning. Mr Obama wants to hide his 'blackness' and even more that of his wife. And he has tried to substitute his wife with Oprah.

    I am completely accustomed not to judge people by the colour of their skin. "Brown" 1954-6 and "Bakke" 1978 have reshaped rights and culture. Now is time for the black community to engage those rights, and judiciously to make them work.

    No one calls Africans "African African". I fail to grasp the appellative "African-American". They are American, period. And yes...Mr Obama has used Brown and Bakke to get where he is. Why not show the rest of Americans how he has done it?

    September 19, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Geoff, Princeton, NJ

    Why does Jesse Jackson continue to make headlines? What he says is about as significant as your average commoner. He means nothing, says nothing, and does nothing. Move along people, move along.

    September 19, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. Robert, Atlanta, Georgia

    Jackson is a hypocrite. Until he makes amends for his own ridiculous rush to judgement in the Duke lacrosse case anything he says or does can not be taken seriously by anyone of any race.

    September 19, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Michael, Koloa, HI

    Jesse Jackson needs a job!

    September 19, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Paul J. G. Nags Head, North Carolina

    Now hold up!!! Jackson can say freely that Obama is acting white and us WHITE people should not take that to offence but if we WHITE people were to say a someone is acting black, we are being racest?

    Answer this question for me Jackson - Just how does someone act WHITE?

    You are a racest pig yourself Jackson!!!

    It's people like you who are the reason there is so much violence and hate crimes in this world!

    September 19, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Ralph Holder, Newton, NH

    I brought a similar issue to the attention of the Obama and Clinton's camps, regarding the blatant violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by the NH Family Court and NH Supreme Court over court ordered racial segregation in education by court officials. I asked that the confront NH Demoncratic officials and Governor Lynch as to why something like this could happen in this very age and directly under their noses, with no appropriate sense of outrage or indignation towards the racially motivated bias of court officials. Only Obama's people responded, but the response avoided answering the concerns for the situation. I've invited him to attend my criminal trial where the same state officials that defended the state against my civil rights lawsuit are now pursuing false allegations against me claiming I threatened the court officials and the NH U.S. Attorney.

    September 19, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Woodbridge, VA

    Just what is "acting Black"? That statement is very racial. If true, I'm very diappointed Mr. Jackson would make such a statement.

    September 19, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Barbara Wong, Coral Springs, Florida

    I suppose its time for Jessie to get back in the news. This time again, he is ridiculous! Mr. Obama is so out of his picky, insecure league that I wish JJ would just keep quiet and pray to God to help us all in these trying times.

    September 19, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. M. in Minnesota

    Jesse Jackson just did more damage to race relations in one STUPID sentance than Don Imus. What is acting white or black?????? How about appropriate and inappropriate. I guess acting white means your well educated, articulate and earn a living huh?

    September 19, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. John Lasher Rockport Indiana

    Doesn't Jackson know that Obama is half white. He isn't a Black man. nor is he a white man. He is a man who is as much a white man as a black man. Those that vote for Mr. Obama will be voting for just as much a black man as a white man. Jackson is more racist than any white man. The idiot should leave Obama alone. Mr. Obama is a good man and has a job and does it well. What does Jackson do?? duh

    September 19, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |


    September 19, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Darrius, AR

    If I were a gambling man, I would be willing to bet that Clinton is behind this.

    September 19, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. DJR, Houston TX

    To JB's from Boston comment:
    The student that was jumped by the jena 6 was not "almost killed". He was bruised badly- he went to the hospital and was released that same day- where he was later seen at a social event. That sure doesn't sound like someone who was ALMOST MURDERED. The case is a serious injustice. Please see it for what it is.

    re: I am confused about this. Why are so many people choosing this as a battle? The 6 students almost killed this other student. One specifically, Micah Bell has several other convictions for assault (5 to be precise). Now, hanging nooses on a tree is a vile disgusting thing (and the students who did that should have been punished more than a suspension), but, no action in this country allows you to beat someone to (almost) death. Except of course, if you are defending yourself. The 16 year old, Micah Bell has several other convictions, and I believe should be tried as an adult. Now, as far as Obama is concerned. . . I wouldn't take campaign recommendations from Jesse Jackson. He clearly wasn't good at campaigning himself, and, truthfully has become virtually irrelevant.

    Posted By JB Boston MA : September 19, 2007 12:47 pm

    September 19, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. Amanda, New York, New York

    unbelievable. who cares what jesse jackson thinks? he can't run for president because he already tried and lost and he knows he's totally moot. he has illegitimate kids and has proven himself to be a phony and a liar. he's just as 'white' as any other black guy. apparently. whatever that EVEN MEANS.

    September 19, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. D. Willis, Carson City, NV.

    Jesse Jackson should know better then to make such a racist comment as "acting like he's white".

    September 19, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Margo, Bartow, Florida

    Acting white? Acting Black? Acting Hispanic? What is that! Until we can get rid of the labels then racism will always exist.
    Injustice is wrong. Injustice has no color.
    Bartow, Florida

    September 19, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Tricia, Plano, TX

    I think Obama acts like a human instead of black or white. That's more important to me.

    September 19, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. Bongie Manguino

    But he is white, isn't he?

    September 19, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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