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. John, New York, New York

    Does acting white mean that he doesn't sling rock aka he doesn't act black?

    September 19, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Matt, Albany, GA

    What a disgusting thing to say. Completely racist and without merit.

    September 19, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Steve, New York

    People like Jesse Jackson are racist in every form. Not only are they racist against white people, they are racist against blacks if they don’t fit into a “mold” of being black. What is acting black or white? Living in a trailer or listening to rap music? NO! There is no such thing as acting “black enough” or “white enough”. Unless you are a racist trying to get others to conform you your racist mind frame. Jesse Jackson screams for quality, but when a black person “acts white” he tries to roll back the clock and scream “he’s not acting black enough”. What do you want Jessie, to have equality, or live in the past?

    September 19, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |


    September 19, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. Matt, Latham, NY

    It's amazing that when it's the other way around the Rev. Jackson and Al Sharpton are not to be heard from. Just recently two young black women beat up an elderly white woman, threw bleach in her eyes and robbed her. Where where you Jesse an Al?

    September 19, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. A.B. , Louisiana

    Jesse Jackson loves to stir the pot-o-crap.

    September 19, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Vince , Phoenix

    why, Jesse, why,,, Why GIVE them this GIFT of stupidity to foam over for the next week... This is the kind of gaffe that brings them out of the woodwork! I once respected you as a saavy politician who advanced the dialogue. That is no longer the case. Regarding the Jena 6, people get ALL of the facts before making the all too easy dumb racist comments. Anyone who truly examines the case will conclude that the current outrage is just.

    September 19, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Larry, Huntington, NY

    Hey Rev Jackson, remember when Nick Minucci beat up a black kid that had admitted he was in the neighborhood to steal a car. He was sentence to 14 years in jail because you guys said it was a hate crime. Why is it any different for these 6 black kids that jumped a white kid??? by the way i think both cases were ridiculous i just want to show how racist u are!!!

    September 19, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Alyce, Dallas, Texas

    It is a shame that this country still looks at its people as black or white. I look at Mr. Obama and see a man, I look at Mrs. Clinton and see a woman. I would like to believe that after all we Americans have been through, black and white, we could come together once and for all as a country, and just look at the issues at hand, listen to the speeches and judge for ourselves who is the better person to run our country. Personnally, I don't care if the next President is green or purple, just as long as he or she is honest with the American people, true to his values, and will stand up for his or her ideals.

    September 19, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Carl Hatmaker, Kentucky

    This statement is the ultimate in racism and immaturity. If you disagree with me, you are acting white. This comment is based on the racist assumption that all black people act a certain way and all white people act a certain way.
    More importantly, does anyone really care what Jackson says? Does he carry any sway with anyone? He hardly seems relivant seeing as how he has never won an election and is obviously only in the political arena for self promotion.

    September 19, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Louis

    Jackson is upset for his career never going anywhere, how do you act white by the way, I'm not sure what that means, you mean when you are educated and speak in complete sentences, does that make you sound like you are white. Help me cause I dont know

    September 19, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Jody, Tampa FL

    What if a white person said don't act like a black person. If I can't say it Jesse Jackson shouldn't say it.

    September 19, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Jessie, crawl back under the rock you came from. You have financially capitalized on blacks for years so let there be no profit in your unjustified statement about Sen. Obama. We as Black Americans don't need any further divide. We are smart enough to know you will drag Sen. Obama through the mud for your own self serving purposes.

    September 19, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Rich, NY, NY

    I am appalled at the Justice system in Louissian. I am sick to my stomach. We are livivng in year 2007 not 1807. Those folks are ignorant and backward, hanging noose on trees, burning down buildings and assaulting each others because of the color of one's skin. Grow up rural folks, you need integration and intervention and proper moral and ethical and racial tolerance. How can progressive folks stay in such a community, don't they have internet access to view and learn about the globe, it's people and cultures. The mayor and the governor are a joke, who voted for such backward thinking leader, I hope none of them have any higher political ambition. I will stay and will always live in the greatest city on earth NY.

    September 19, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. St. Louis, MO

    Acting white? Isn't that a racist remark? Jesse Jackson wants racial distinctions to flourish. It's the only way he gets the attention he craves.

    September 19, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. Jeremy, Ocean, NJ

    Jesse Jackson is an irrelevant dinosaur who will exploit any situation to get attention. What does "acting white" really mean? Isn't that a racist statement in and of itself? Is he saying it is okay to beat somebody until they are unconscious. His hypocrisy (on many levels, e.g. illegitimate child) is unconscionable, he is a bigot and a demagogue with no moral standing whatsoever and should be ignored. He is a problem not a solution. He feeds on exploiting racial animus, he is a racist with darker pigmentation. I feel sorry for him and those that actually listen to him.

    September 19, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. dre, lyman SC

    this jesse jackson is a complete idiot....Its funny that he doesnt know how humiliating he is....he is a nothing but a joke....

    September 19, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. Awake & Alert

    Incredible! All these responses indicate how much we are led by incorrect, unconfirmed information put out there by the media. Jesse didn't say it and folks who were there have confirmed it. I have spoken with them. This is really, really incredible. I guess most see it as an opportunity to attack Jesse. No one metions Jesse's support for Obama; no one mentions that he criticized all the candidates for their lack of attention to what's happening in Jena. I guess you would all rather hear about OJ, who really is irrelevant! Most of your comments make it clear you don't have all the facts. You briefly and incompletely mention what the white kids did and have been doing for some time. They're not excused. Did anyone mention the fact that not only did they hang nooses & call black kids the "n" word, they beat up a black child. All this warranted a short suspension?? Is this justice? The same act was committed, but there was much different punishment. The white kid that was beat up was out and at a school event that same night. No one mentioned that, either. Come people. Open up your eyes. I would love to say that racism doesn't exist, but it does. That is not to say that all the problems in Black America are due to racism, but it does indeed exist. When you've never experienced it, whether you're white or black, then it's very easy to dismiss it. What happened in Jena is a travesty and reminiscent of the 1960's when racism was rampant and overt. It's wrong and America should respond; not just blacks, not just Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, not just the presidential candidates, but all Americans. And for those of you who talk about what Al & Jesse don't do, it's obvious that you've never looked into what they do. They work feverishly in and out of the spotlight to correct all injustice. It does focus on the African-American community, but isn't limited to that. The media shares what they want to and you folks follow. When Jesse brought the hostages home were they all black? I don't think so. When Al defended white families did that ever make it to CNN? No! You assume Jesse said something based on false media reports and say he shouldn't criticize. Follow your own advice. Don't something. Al & Jesse aren't wrong for helping people, no matter what color they are. I support Obama and have been a huge fan for some time. We get our hair cut at the same place, which he still comes to without a huge entourage. I support Jesse (Sr & Jr) who are both members of my community and tireless in their efforts. I encourage all you armchair quarterbacks to do your homework. Step your game up! For the record, I am a West Point graduate, a University of Chicago MBA & current PhD student. Wake up America.......

    September 19, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Mark, chicago, il

    What do you's Jessie.

    September 19, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. Shannon, DeKalb County, Illinois

    Jesse Jackson – You are racist. If there was a "black KKK" you would be Grand Wizard. You want to abolish racism in the United States? Here's a suggestion...keep your ignorant, one-sided mind vomit out of our public view. Why do you hate so much? Did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not teach you anything? Why don't you love more instead of being such a hater?

    September 19, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Joon, Los Angeles, California

    Rev Jesse Jackson thinks there are sides to racial tension? So we have to choose either the black side or the white side... interesting. Whatever happened to not taking sides. No wonder Rev Jackson is so unsuccessful in dealing with racial issues. He's promoting people to take sides. As long as there are self-proclaimed enemies there will always be tensions.

    September 19, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. greg okc, ok

    Had a prominent white political figure made the comments that Jackson made, Jackson would have been the first to gripe about it. He (Jackson)is as slimy and self-serving as slimy and self-serving can be.

    September 19, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Sally, Tustin CA

    Jesse Jackson is a moron, and is as racist as he preaches he is NOT.

    September 19, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Dave Stewart Calgary AB Canada

    The only time you ever hear from this Jackson fellow is at the expense
    of someone else, keep him off the news, what he thinks does not matter to anyone

    September 19, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Stephanie, Seattle, WA

    Why should it be acceptable to direct certain comments one way, but should they be reversed, would be considered racist? I mean come on, if someone said a white person "acted like he was black"...?

    September 19, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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