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. Camille, Washington, DC

    It's sad reading some of these comments. Yes, if Jesee made those statements, he's dead wrong.

    As for the Jena 6, those boys should not spend the rest of their lives in prison for a school fight. If the 6 are punished, then the whites who hung the nooses and beat up one of the black boys should also face charges!

    America has not come a long way from Jim Crow and segregation...just look at some of these comments.

    As far as race, there's only one race the human race. Genetically, we all come from the African!

    September 19, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. James, San Antonio, TX

    Are you kidding me? So its ok for someone to say another person is acting like another race and it is not considered racism? Why? Because he is a "black" man acting "white"? Whatever! Racism is racism and every person has a right to act however he or she wants. So what if he speaks differently to different crowds. Isn't that what you are suppossed to do as a good speaker...know your audience and cater your speech to them? I think Jesse should be in the hot seat just like any other celebrity (Mel Gibson or Michael Richards for example)that has had anything to say about somebody of the other race.

    September 19, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Vince, Phoenix AZ

    A couple of observances....
    –Any post regarding Obama brings out passion either for or against... Postings about him usually beat the closest number of comments by 100+ (pay attention to yourselves, America...)
    –Where are the comments from the Presidential Candidates on the right? Given their refusal to debate at an Historically Black College, seems the silence from them is DEAFENING.

    September 19, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Catherine, Kenosha WI

    Acting white??? What a racist thing to say. The only way to eliminate racisim is to stop people like Jackson that say that the different races must act differently from each other. I thought Mr. Jackson wanted to erase boundaries and bring people together. Sounds like he wants to keep us all separate. What does it keep him in a job? BTW I believe the prosecution is going overboard with the Jena 6 and that has nothing to do with race. It's kids being stupid.

    September 19, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Paul, Phoenix, Arizona

    How about Mr. Jackson acting like a color-blind human being?

    September 19, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Nicole, Birmingham, AL

    As far as the comment posted earlier about Jena 6 not occuring if the black students hadn't beat up the white student, get your facts straight. Jena 6 wouldn't have happened if those nooses hadn't been hung up on the so called white tree, or if the white kids hadn't beat up a black kid first at a party. Jena 6 wouldn't have taken place if the black students had received the same punishment as the white students; Jena 6 wouldn't be a issue if there were equal rights for everyone no matter what race. How anyone can think racism still doesn't exist or is not an issue, is obviously not a minority. As far as Obama goes, keep doing what you doing; unfortunately you can't please everyone all the time. Some people are just jealous and ignorant. What is acting white? That's just like saying black people can't use good english or be professional or that were not supposed to. There are alot of white people that don't use correct english or act professional; so anyone who thinks that behavior is only reserved for whites, is just as ignorant!

    September 19, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Eddie, Fort Worth TX

    Mr. Jackson must not have realized he was being taped. Sounds like a racist to me. I bet no one jumps on him for his racial slur.

    September 19, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. monica, rochester NY

    Don't believe the racist lies posted by Posted By Tom, Macon Ga : September 19, 2007. Spreading lies is the weapon of the weak and desperate. For the truth about Obama's background visit the barack obama .com website:
    http://www.barackobama.com/about/
    Or any legitimate biography source.
    Whether you're for or against Obama it's your duty and responsibility to make sure you're basing your decision on the truth, not lies from haters. True Americans are better than that.

    September 19, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. John, Harrisburg, PA

    I think Jesse Jackson should worry more about erasing stereotypes than trying to enforce them. I thought his job to help equality, not to ensure divisiveness.

    September 19, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Online User, Houston, TX

    This is in response to the following message posted by H.E. Henderson:

    It is people like you that are a disgrace to this country....you cannot get past the black vs. white concept. How about a more logical concept: ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL, NO MATTER WHAT COLOR THEY ARE. You and all the other "Jesse lovers" need to get a life and stop the finger pointing, that is the only way we can get past the issue of racism.

    re: WHOW!! U WHITE PEOPLE R SOO FUNNY. U JUST DONT GET IT. BLACKS BEAT UP A WHITE, WHITE LATER GOES TO A PARTY THAT SAME NIGHT. WHITES BEAT UP A BLACK AND PULL A GUN ON THE BLACKS. NO CHARGES TO THE WHITES. BLACKS GET CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER, AND ALSO FOR REMOVING THE GUN FROM THE WHITES, THE BLACKS GET CHARGED WITH ROBBERY AND THEFT. GO FIGURE WHITE PEOPLE.

    Posted By H. E. HENDERSON : September 19, 2007 3:22 pm

    September 19, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. RICH NY, NY

    THIS CASE OF THE JENA 6 IS ABOUT WHITE TEENS HAVING A FIGHT WITH BLACK TEENS AND THE WHITE TEENS BEAT UP SOME BLACK TEENS ALMOST TO DEATH AND WERE NOT CHARGE WITH THE SAME CHARGES THAT BLACK TEENS WERE CHARGE WITH WHEN THE BLACK TEENS BEAT UP THE WHITE TEENS! THIS IS JUST A SCHOOL YARD FIGHT THAT OCCURS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS EVERYDAY WHICH IS A SHAME! THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM UNFAIRLY PUNISH AFRICAN AMERICANS FOR THE SAME CRIMES WHITE AMERICANS COMMIT! YOU KONW RACISM ONLY CAN SURVIVE WITH PEOPLE MAKING COMMENTS LIKE JESSE JACKSON HAS MADE. I,M TO YOUNG TO KNOW WHAT RACISM IS I WAS NEVER A SLAVE I DID NOT GROW UP WITH JIM CROW LAWS AND DID NOT MARCH IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT! I HAVE WHITE FRIENDS,ASIAN FRIENDS AND LATINO FRIENDS I KNOW MY FATHER AND GRAND PARENTS MIGHT UNDERSTAND WHAT JESSE JACKSON COMMENT IS ABOUT BUT THEY NEVER RAISE ME TO HATE PEOPLE WHO ARE RACIST THERE ARE A#@ HOLES IN EVERY RACE!!! BARACK OBAMA THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!

    September 19, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Jacob, Tulsa, OK

    I love how Blacks finally get a worthy candidate for President and instead of being proud and excited, they complain that he's not Black enough. I'm sorry but the first Black President will probably not be like Chris Rock's character in "Head of State". Sorry Black people.

    People like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are the cause of most white people's dislike of Black people. Most Black people with half a brain stay the hell away from those idiots.

    September 19, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Greg, Glendale, IL

    Jesse Jackson is a racist a**. Someone needs to end his suffering permanelty. The main reason there is still racism in usa is because of people like him and Sharpton. I have no problem with blacks or any other race for that matter, but listening to dumbs**** like Jackson I can understand why whites are sick and tires of hearing the sob story. Slavery is over idiot.

    September 19, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. anonymous

    So long as leaders of the black community continue to be examples of bigotry in a reverse manner, there can never be a way forward....hmmm, then again if we all moved forward and stopped the name calling, they wouldn't have jobs. Newsflash Jackson..black people are diverse too! You and your opinion don't represent all black people just because you are black.

    September 19, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Bob Boldridge Des Moines, Iowa

    Speaking as a person of color, Jesse Jackson is a joke and an insult to all intelligent Black people. He's obviously jealous of Obama because he's alot brighter and has more charisma then Jesse ever had. I grew up on a family farm in Iowa and I never did understand why some Black people think you should pretend you're from the ghetto even if you're not. And then they have the nerve to think they came lay that guilt trip on you for being too white.

    September 19, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. Bill Dallas, Tx

    That seems a little racist that he said he's acting white. If it was one white guy saying another white guy was acting black, there would be hell to pay woudn't there???

    September 19, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Shannon, DeKalb County, IL

    To Awake and Alert – It doesn't matter what was or wasn't said. Point being, the Rev. needs to have a nice big cup of shut the hell up. Seriously. I act White all the time but sometimes I act Black, Chinese, Indian, British, Aussie – whatever. Jesse sticks his foot in his mouth everytime he opens it, so this "berating of the Rev." is long overdue!!!!!

    September 19, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. Lynn, Tucson, AZ

    Jesse Jackson has done more to continue to continue segregation than anyone else in the world! This man should of been silenced years ago...

    September 19, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. J, Ocean, NJ

    George W. Bush has a B.A. from Yale and and M.B.A. from Harvard, what is your point?

    Were you there to verify that he was misquoted by the press?

    Moreover, this is all race baiting. There is some institutionalized problems indeed, but the african-american community also needs to perform some soul-searching. Are they going to blame the fatherless problem, teen pregnancy and drug dealing on "white" America? Take some responsibility. Immigrant groups last century had to transcend cultural, religious and language barriers and managed to do well. Asians don't make excuses and they are markedly different in appearance and culture, in fact, they succeed quite well. This is not a race issue, it is a class issue. Poor whites aren't exactly in positions of power either. These are issues that need to be discussed in the public discourse and often are ignored.

    September 19, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Mike, Millville, New Jersey

    Jesse needs to go and climb back in the hole he and Al Sharpton come out of. All they do is come out and stir up a bunch of bad feelings then go back and hide till something else comes along they can pounce on and make it sound like its all the white folks fault. Please let Americans be themselves and say what they want. After all this is America. Thank You

    September 19, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    This is awful.....still with all of the information available on this board about the Jena 6 some of you guys still want to turn your head. This incident should be enough to make everyone sick and want to fight back for injustices for everyone. I am not going to knock Jesse or Al because they do good and sometimes bad. I wonder what Jesse said to those Iraqis that had captured 6 US soldiers to get them free? Oh yeah Jesse got them free.

    Oh yeah and by the way the DA over this case is also on the school board people and where is the police report for this case. That hasn't been filed yet. Can we all agree that something in Jena sticks and I think its the DA. He failed the justice system and I think he did it for spite. That little kid pride was hurt more than anything. Why else would you go to a party after you get beat up? He wanted to talk about it to his friends and try to get more people involved.

    September 19, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Gary Bonner, Chicago, Illinois

    While I usually do not comment on these articles, this one is just beyond the pale. I am an African-American. I am tired of Jesse Jackson thinking he has cornered the market on "Blackness." He needs to get a real job and focus on supporting his "Baby Moma!"

    September 19, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Seymour Miami FL

    And Jesse Jackson wonders why there is still a racial divide in this country.
    This kind of insidious talk will forever fuel the race issue in this country.

    September 19, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. DJ COREY P Springfield, MO

    Incredible, if it's not Rush Limbaugh trying to criticize upstanding African Americans, then it's Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton. I am 100% caucasian, and this offends me. Wake up Mr. Jackson, Barrack Obama is a better man than you will ever be, and he actually has a shot to possibly become president, though it probably will not happen due to this display of ignorance, and the ignorance of many others in our nation.

    September 19, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Disappointed, Chicago, IL

    Comments like this are what continually divide our country on race! Disappointing!!

    He does not "recall" making this statement, please! You either make a statement or you don't.....that simple.

    September 19, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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