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. Al G. Wisconsin

    Just what is "acting white" exactly? Does it mean that Obama is educated, has intregrated himself into mainstream society, isn't a reverse racist and doesn't go around pointing fingers, looking for someone else to blame for his problems? Jackson and his tired, antequated rethoric needs to fade away and blacks in this country need to realize that you can't have a "colorblind society" if one side refuses to stop coloring EVERY issue.

    September 19, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Zach Maryland Heights, MO

    Hey Jesse, every time you speak, your making a fool out of yourself. There is a lot important things to worry about in this world then Obama "acting white". Do you just come up with these dumb things to say just to hear yourself on the news?

    September 19, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Chris Johnson Harbor Springs Michigan

    Jessie is the biggest hypocrite around. Had any Non Black person had reversed his comment he would be all over it claiming racism. He puts a bigger divide in race relations than anyone else.

    September 19, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Bill, Lansing Mi

    Jesse Jackson is all about jesse jackson and trying to capitalize on other peoples misfortunes. And here comes Mr Obama and he is smarter and more well versed then Jesse Jackson will ever be and he is jealious so now he has to use the "white" word. Mr. Jackson, do you see know whay you will never be in the the same category as Mr. Obama.

    September 19, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Juan Johnson

    Its people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton that keep racisim in the forefront and alive.. Hey jackson, hows your daughter you had out of wed lock, hey Sharpton, check up on Tawwna doing? Remember Her? Hey and Imus can thank you for $40 million for saying one not so bad thing, yet I hear the N word left and right wheer I live. Thank you for your double standards and making me guilty for lacking melonin

    September 19, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Mike Smith, New Orleans, LA

    Dear Jesse: Crying race is not a profession. Get a real job.

    September 19, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Bill, Taylorville Ill

    When is someone going to have the nerve to inform Jesse that he has no relevance anymore, if indeed he ever did. And someone also needs to tell Jena to open their pocketbooks because Jesse never pays for anything. Just ask Decatur,IL.

    September 19, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Kerry

    First let me say I am "black" guy. Not sure if that gives me any authority to say what "acting" white or black is,but Rev. Jackson's comments are the dumbest I've heard in a long time coming out a black mans mouth. Many well educated black men and women are charged with acting white because they speak proper English and have a brain. I think Mr. Jackson's comments are pure jealousy and envious because he didn't get as far as Obama has in regards to being elected.

    His comments are really upsetting!!

    September 19, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. KMS Rochester, NY

    So if someone blasted a canditate for "being too black" that would be front page news!!!!

    September 19, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. Steve, Bedford MA

    What a racist! Why does the press give the likes of Jackson and Sharpton any press at all? They claim that race is to blame for all woes and at the same time are racist themselves.

    September 19, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Ronda, Orlando FL

    I think it's a white issue as much as it's a black issue. I am white and I am horrified that this racism still exists. it affects me immensely and I don't appreciate someone saying that if obama doesn't give it attention, he's acting white. as if white is an insult. I can assure you that there are many black folks who don't have a clue about this as well as many white folks who don't have a clue. but I am white and I've followed this from before it was getting major news coverage. does that mean I'm acting black? come on with that ridiculous phrase already.

    September 19, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Lee Porter

    Mr. Jackson continues to be an opportunist, creating controversy and stirring racial division in order to keep himself in the public consciousness. He should be trying to heal, not add insult to injury.
    Mr. Jackson is showing signs of having outlived his political usefulness.

    September 19, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. keith, detroit mi

    What is interesting about this case is how little has been discussed of why 6 black youthes were fighting with one white youth.

    September 19, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. jana los angeles ca

    This attitude is exactly why progress is slowing. acting white. lol

    September 19, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Ann

    And we wonder why the world is the way it is. Racism will live forever because of Jesse and Al. Obama is not black, he is not white, he is not red or blue – He is an American. Something you will never be. This country will always be divided as long as you are here because if it wasn't you wouldn't have a purpose.

    September 19, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. J. Johnson, Portsmouth VA

    "If I were a candidate, I'd be all over Jena,"...

    You were a candidate. Twice. Never even got remotely close to winning, correct?
    My advice, don't take his advice, it's like being coached by Ryan Leaf.

    September 19, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. Edwin Pagan, New York City

    I think Jesse Jacson is way off base on this one. While I can strongly relate with his anger on the Jena six, I cannot imagine why Obama's articulate demeanor is out of character for an African American, man or woman. Obama is an educated man and looks and lives the part.

    Another more relevant question is: What does Jesse Jackson think a black person ought to look and sound like, if not well-spoken or dignified? Perhaps that may shed more light on the matter in question. It’s obvious if you have one opinion, then there is the counterpoint that informs it.

    September 19, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. Scott, San Marcos, CA

    Jesse Jackson has spent a lifetime standing on the shoulders of giants (in the civil rights movement) but lately he has been kicking them in the face with his inflammatory rhetoric.

    The Rev Jackson's time has passed.

    September 19, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Mary, Nashville, TN

    Does it really matter what color these 6 guys are? If they really did what they are accused of doing it wouldn't matter if they were purple, they should be arrested and tried. Jesse Jackson needs to look a the big picture in color not just black and white.

    September 19, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. Doug, NYC

    Jackson, like Sharpton, Farrakhan, and others, TOTAL RACISTS.

    Hey JESSE!
    which SUCKS in both directions.

    That any intelligent person can STILL support this racist loser is disgusting.

    September 19, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. Jeff B. Buffalo, NY

    What exactly does "acting white" mean in these days of trying to have equality and Mr. Jackson, one of the biggest leaders of this so called movement for equality is making racial remarks like that? Black/White, they are just colors and should be left at that. The problem that I have is reverse the rolls and have a white person make such a comment about a black person and all hell would break loose. Can't everyone just get along as responsible human beings and leave it at that?

    September 19, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Jackson is actually the racist. He and Sharpton are the problems. The racists.

    Why does he always have to bring up race? Let Obama be himself.

    How does one act white anyway?

    September 19, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Ed, York, AL

    If Jesse Jackson isn't a racist there simply are no racists in this world. What a digusting man making an ignorant, disgusting comment.

    September 19, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Pam A S'Side PEI

    If the news reported the sky was Falling these Americans would blame Hillary! Ridiculous!

    Everyone around world I'm sure is sick and tired of listening to Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson Bantering! They are the two who are causing the MOST dissention between Black and Whites in America. They should find a back seat somewhere and go sit down and zipper their mouths shut!

    AND NO I AM NOT against Blacks or Gays or Obama. I'm just against racism and those who Spear Head it and Keep Spinning it like Jesse and Al until they give themselves a front row seat like Jesse and Al. Disgraceful...They are against Racism supposedly and they are the ones that are keeping the issue in the News and out of control!

    September 19, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Sam,Nashville,TN

    I'm so sick of hearing about Jesse Jackon, Al Sharpton, and the Jena 6! Should the white students have hung nooses from a tree, NO. I believe the white students should be punished severely for their actions. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton need to look beyond race and look at the facts. You have 6 kids some with prior records attacking 1 kid. Do you think for one minute the so called Jena 6 had intentions of just causing some minor bumps and bruses on this kid? Six people don't gather to fight one person unless they intend to hurt someone. It doesn't matter whether this kid was on his death bed or attended a school function the same night. In the justice system a pre-mediatated crime is considered worse than committing a crime on a whim.

    September 19, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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