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. Ben - Montgomery, AL

    I wonder what would have happened if someone said, "that Guiliani is acting black?" Oh come on ... we all know.

    September 19, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Concerned, Buffalo NY

    I am neither white nor black, but I would definitely NOT vote for Obama if he pays heed to retards like these!

    What is Obama supposed to do? Support a bunch of hooligans who beat someone up?
    What does 'act black' mean anyway? May be he wants Obama to wear loose pants exposing his behind, and talk rap...

    September 19, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    'Acting like he's white' comment coming from the man is known to harbor reverse racism.

    Jessie Jackson says lots of bold things that if a white person said they would be thrown in jail.

    He gives the black community a bad name and should be totally ignored.

    September 19, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. KPMAH, Glendale, AZ

    Here WE go again...must WE resort to this AGAIN...and WE wonder why people like Imus say things about US...

    September 19, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. Rashad Goff Norfolk, VA

    Jesse Jackson should be ashamed of himself. He and Al Sharpton have not been relevant in years and the only way they can get themselves back in the spotlight is taking positions that oppose popular thought. They do not represent black America, they only represent their own self interest. He is a hypocrite and should resign himself to stop being a blight on society.

    September 19, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. tony gaughan nashville, tn

    is that a racist comment? yep, i think so jessie....practice what you preach.

    September 19, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Ken, Columbus, OH

    This is why Barack Obama is a serious presidential candidate and Jesse Jackson never was. It's time to take the focus off of race.

    September 19, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Delaney Carson

    As usual there's Jesse and Al screaming racism. It's a rant I'm getting tired of hearing and it's all they ever fall back on. Both those clowns just need to move to Africa. Maybe they'd be happier there.

    September 19, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    And Jesse has a problem with Obama's statement because ... ?

    While I fully agree that what happened to those kids in Jena was bull and exhibits racism at its finest within our judicial system, what's Obama, or anyone supposed to do – should he be smacking the prosecuter upside his head and asking, "what were you thinking?" (While not a bad idea, I don't think it will do well to further Obama's presidential ambitions). Would that suit Jesse? There are times when I really respect Jesse Jackson but there are times when he just falls off the turnip truck.

    I fully agree that the DOJ should investigate, just as I fully agree with the appeals court decision. But I also believe – judically – more needs to be done for the Jena 6. There's no way it would have gotten this far had the Jena 6 been white.

    September 19, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Murray, ROK

    How does a person act "white"?

    September 19, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Reid, Kingslad Georgia

    Sounds like a pretty racist remark to me. But I bet there is no uproar over this. My how it would be different if it was the opposite.

    September 19, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I think that this falls under the heading, "If I can't be President, then neither can he!"

    September 19, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. T. Fields - Portland, Oregon

    I think the Jena incident is another indication that race relations are still a social issue.

    I'm also tired of African-Americans judging other African-Americans by how "Black" they are. If being "Black" means being, loud, under educated, lacking the understanding of the world beyond your neighborhood, and not having enough social knowledge to go to a nice restaurant and use the right fork – THEN COUNT ME OUT – I'm African-American and for most of my life I've been accused of "Not being black enough".

    September 19, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Jeff Warhol, Houston, TX

    If a white man made the same statement about a black man he'd be immediately labeled a racist. I guess this comment now makes Jesse an official racist, and he should be treated as such.

    September 19, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Keith O'Reilly, Ohio

    If Obama should "quit acting white", "Reverend" Jackson should quit using the name reverend. If there's a problem with acting "white", that comes off as a racist comment to me. I'm not defending Obama one bit, but most Reverends I know teach tolerance and love. IF you're a true Reverend, when you stand before God, what do you think he'll say to you? Well done good and faithful servant. Or depart from me, for I never knew you. Use your title as a responsibility, not just as means for power and status.

    September 19, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. John, Jackson, MI

    We all know what Jackson's response would be if a white person accused another white person of "acting black". Enough is enough. Let's stop with the race comments once and for all. The media plays a big part in how this world reacts anymore by how they slant things and they jump on comments like this which is unfortunate.

    September 19, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Joe, Atlanta, GA

    Somebody please let me know why it's ok for a black guy to say that another black guy is acting white and everything is cool with that. I'm personally offended by Jesse's statement. If a white person said Hillary was acting like she's black, Jesse would be screaming and ranting like the fool he is.

    September 19, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Gary Jones west palm Beach, FL

    As opposed to acting what? Black. How about acting like a human. Hypocrisy is a word, look it up.

    September 19, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. LinnieFB, Corona, CA

    Obama's comments were appropriate.

    Jackson's comments ('acting white') remind me of what studious African-American kids hear on a constant basis when they focus on academics.

    Jackson's comments remind me of what hard-working African-American parents hear because they pursue the American dream.

    Rev. Jackson should be ashamed of himself for accusing Obama of 'acting white.' This is part of the divisive political process that has occurred for years in our country.

    Could there be jealousy on Jackson's part because a new, progressive African-American leader has emerged? Or is Jackson doing the bidding of "massa & his wife?"

    I was proud when Jackson ran for the nomination years ago...but it is a new day. Obama will be president for ALL the people. Obama is the true person who "keeps hope alive." Obama is the true person who encourages our youth to "be somebody."

    Jackson thrives on disarray and controversy. He cannot help Americans - black or white. He hit below the belt with this one and he will be judged accordingly.

    September 19, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. Lisa - Decatur Georgia

    Okay, so Obama is black "acting white" and blacks won't vote for him but Hillary is "white" and blacks will vote for her.
    Sorry I just don't get that.
    Obama just be who you are and don't concern yourself with "black folks".

    From another individual who is classifed as "acting white".

    September 19, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Jamie - Omaha, NE

    I guess I don't see how Obama's statement regarding the case isn't "bold enough" and equates to "acting like he's white." If speaking in an articulate, educated manner equates to being white, so be it. I don't understand why segments of black America persist in blasting other blacks who choose to get an education, hold themselves accountable for their life rather than blame others, who speak properly, and who choose to pursue a productive and responsible way of life. Isn't that what we all should strive for no matter what background we come from?

    September 19, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Reginald Carver, St louis, MO.

    We talk about OJ as if this is a story, its NOT. In this country our American black boys are getting taken out by certain people such as in Jena,LA.. Jena 6 is a story I want to hear about everyday until those kids are free and clear. that goes for you too NANCY GRACE(if your not scared talk about Jena 6)

    September 19, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. D. Rock - Chicago, IL

    This comment shows Jesse Jackson's blatant prejudice of an entire race that he stereotypes as negative. It is obvious that despite his assertions he is a uniter, he is only interested in divisive politics that are servicing a specific segment of the population without regard for the general humanity. If he were really a uniter he would be interested in seeing a progressive change in all people that would benefit the planet as a whole, instead of using cliches to empower himself within a historically under-served population and perpetuating the cycle of alienation at the expense of all men living together as equals.

    September 19, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. William Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    WHAT is wrong with All you People, especially you spineless politicians & "news" media?
    Although a high school prank like hanging a noose from a school tree is both hurtful & intolerable, Let's not forget the accused has a history of assaulting others &, in this case, he & his buddies nearly stomped that white kid to death. Where's the law & justice here? & Who's rights are being ignored,the black(accused) perpetrator or the white (assaulted) victim?? Does the black bully have to murder someone before you color blind morons take him to task? Besides, His name isn't OJ!

    September 19, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. Lawrence Johns Lawton, Oklahoma

    Part of the reason this country still has racial issues is because of people like Jackson. He thrusts race into everything .... Why can't I look at Obama as who he is, what he brings to the table, and whether I trust him or not as a person? Why do I need to look at his color and whether he's "acting" white or black or green? Who cares.. obviously Jessie Jackson. So tell me Mr Jackson, just what is "acting black suppose to look like? I mean I need to know so that as a "white" man I can act the way I'm suppose to act rather than all of us just acting as descent repsectable members of society. I've spent the majority of my 48 years looking at a person and seeing who they are for what they say, do, and follow through on... NOT whether they are acting the color of their skin. But I guess that is what YOU want people to always focus on.. someone's skin color FIRST then if they are acting according to their skin color we can, and only then, listen to their message.

    Mr Jackson... you are a fool and a major part of the racial troubles still being dealt with in todays society.. shut up please and let the rest of us listen to the candidate without you pointing out what color people are. Who cares.

    September 19, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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