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.

Full story

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (828 Responses)
  1. S, Illinois

    I understand our past is full of unspeakable prejudices. But isn't it time to stop pointing at the color of a criminal and start pointing at the crimes they commit? The PEOPLE that hung the nooses should pay the price for their crimes. The PEOPLE that burned down the school should pay the price for their crimes. The PEOPLE that beat another human being into the hospital should pay the price for their crimes. It's simple. You do violate a law you pay the price. What color, sex, religion, hair color, eye color, language of preference, favorite tv show, favorite music, or how stupid someone is HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING!!!

    The civil rights movement isn't just about or for African Americans. It is for every single living creature on the planet. In my heart Dr. King would see this and would have changed the face of his movement. African Americans have more rights now then before his lifetime. But his speech shouldn't have been taken as a speech just about color. I never have believed it was. Color should never be brought up if we ever intend to live together in harmony! And no, for those of you that will never open your minds, I am not white, black, brown, red or yellow. I am a human being with concerns about the future of the children. People like Mr. Jackson that have the ability to make a change shouldn't focus on one color. If he, and others, would start putting the focus just on injustices everywhere people would stop seeing color.

    "Reach for the heavens and hope for the future and all that we can be, not what we are."

    September 19, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Kathy Troy Michigan

    How does he get away with making statements like that!!

    We have created a status for Jesse that is being abused by Jesse. What do you think the other minorities think of this man.

    September 19, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Matt, Oxnard , CA

    Jackson is one of the biggest racists in America!

    September 19, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Obama, here in the USA!

    if you listen to jackson and sharpton, you are ignorant, racist and stupid. Both are and will always be racist and ignorant.

    September 19, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Justin Richmond, VA

    how do you "act white" ? and whats wrong with that?

    September 19, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Cris Willmarth, Yakima, WA

    I love the double standard exhibited here. I can just hear the outcry by Jesse and Al Sharpton if Al Gore told someone they are "acting like a black man." We would never hear the end of it. Just like the Duke "rape" case. Jesse and Al were all over that one......until it was proven that the alleged victim lied about everything. Notice Jesse and Al didn't take up the case of the players whose lives were almost ruined. Jesse Jackson is a hypocrite. He and Al Sharpton are the cause of a lot of racial problems in this country.

    September 19, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Lisa, Chicago, IL


    September 19, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Jim indianapolis, indiana

    seems pretty inappropriate to me to say such words. isnt that something that would be construde as racist if said by a white? what EXACTLY does he mean by "acting white?" and WHAT is wrong with WHITE anyway? didnt someone just lose their employment at a large media affiliate just a few months ago over a remark that was deemed inappropriate? yet another double standard? sick world we live in. indeed.

    September 19, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Christy, Rockville, Md

    This is what I hear when I hear Jesse Jackson speak: Wah, Wah, WAHWAHWAHWAHWHAHWHA...WAH. Sort of like Charlie Brown's teacher, but with whining sounds.

    September 19, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Sandra

    i would expect an ignorant inner city kid to label certain black people as "acting white" a 64 year old "leader" should know better than that. if he said that than he should apologize publicly to Mr.Obama.because his comments are completely rediculous.

    September 19, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. max,wichita falls,texas

    sorta sounds a little racist to me

    September 19, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. JR. Boston, Ma

    Jesse Jackson is intimidated by Barack Obama because Barack is 10 times smarter than Jesse Jackson. Jackson could stand to learn a few things from Obama. Barack graduated from Columbia and Harvard and I respect his politics and intelligence.
    I am so sick of hearing that loudmouth Jesse Jackson. What has he done for America over the last 20 years but blow into the same horn all the time, encourage Black prejudice and father illegitimate children. The old "acting white" accusation just doesn't go very far anymore, Jesse. No one respects that anymore, people are smarter now and have access to people and places beyond their front door.

    Jesse, you are not in government, Barack is! Barack is exactly what America needs as a President and what black people need as a leader. I am a black person and I am proud that Barack is running for President. Hopefully enough of you will wise up and choose the better leader, that leader is Barack.

    September 19, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Ohio

    Jesse Jackson has nothing better to do than to start crap. He is the devil. No wonder our society has the race issues it has. That man is the problem. Someone must have really offended him or dropped him on his head as a child

    September 19, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Bob, Dallas, Texas

    What I never understood is why the blacks that gang mauled a white weren't tried under the hate crime bill? Everytime a white is accussed of beating up a black Jesse is yelling hate crime. What is different about this crime except the color of those that caused the violence?

    September 19, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Lavelle Rochester,ny

    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.

    Posted By Awake & Alert : September 19, 2007 3:57 pm

    They need to get back in touch and intuned with the black communities. Because from what i've seen these last couple of years has only caused a divide. When Rev made that huge error on supporting a stripper who wrongfully accused those Duke boys. And Jesse refused to apologize to the boys for calling them all sorts of this and thats. That does Americans a disservice. That doesnt bring us together and that is not what Martin taught Jesse. Jesse has made numerous mistakes with his position on fighting civil rights. Just because you think your fighting the good fight. Does not mean your right with any and everything you say!

    ^^^No need for homework no matter how you slice it the comment was unnecessary. If you support someone you support them. And knowing the media and its spin why would you say something like that? How long as this Jena 6 become an issue? And this is the first time I've heard Jesse and Al speak about this issue. While these 6 were in jail, Jesse and Al were fighting Imus over "nappy headed hoes" then changed there targets to rap but now speak on Jenna 6. What took them so long? Was it the cameras? Or were nooses hanging from a tree not as serious as a retarded old white man saying something stupid? I’ve seen Al numerous times on CNN, Fox news, And on Glen Beck and not once mentioned this when it was at the height of its problem. Now I too am black but you can not deny that Jesse sometimes does "us" a disservice as blacks on how and when he attacks these issues. In my view it’s done for public attention. I only question his motives based on what he has done when the cameras are off. But you can not blind yourself from the possible damage it does between our communities. It confuses blacks on who they should follow period! You’re smart enough to know and see that. It's just a comment that should have never been said. I just don’t see the benefits for blacks and whites behind Jesse Jackson’s comments you can’t be blind to that.

    September 19, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Steve, Tyler, TX

    Jesse – can you spell pathetic? You have ceased, if ever, to be relevant. Let's find a leader who has done something rather than having once walked beside someone who did! Opportunity knocks and Jesse slithers in.

    September 19, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Uche. Ny, NY

    i think we should all stop being ignorant about J. Jackson speech. when he says Obama acts like he's white in regard to the jena 6 case, i think he has a point we all over look. we are talkn about 6 teenages, whether hooligans as some of you have called them or kids with a bright future, the fact remains that these are juviles who were involved in a school fight, according to reliable sources, most of them were not even present during the fight. these kids face up to 100 years in prison just like that. In a racially biased town like jena, such judgement is nothing but dicriminatory and unjust. I need every body postin comments to research on the jena six story. Nooses were hangin from tree branches where afrian americans sat. Nooses in 2007? come on yall. lets get real, this is way moe than prank, the students involved apparently put thier thoughts together before executing such act knowin the symbols and consiquence thereof. A student would ve been killed afterwards say the school fight did not break out. Although J. JAckson has a bad reputation in the african american community, that does not necessarily mean his words are meaningless. the future of six young boys are in the hand of a corrupt judicail system. obama need to stop astin like he does not know waht it means to be an african american in America just because he has attained a higher social status. Obama can do better than saying " im glad the court has reduced the charges... i hope they all get fair and equal trial" this is not an attituted of a presidential candidate. WE should all stop being ignorant of what affects us all. the decisions of the court regarding this issue determines our future. what affects one affects all. lets stop payin heed to what who said and to whom. the issue at hand id the fate of these boys. if you dnt know the true story, find out more before posing your comment and if you knw the background of the story, then be as honestand genuine as you will be if they were your children or were in any way related to you. Lets use the internet as a forum to protest evil and secure our rights as citizens and human.

    September 19, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. dave columbia s.c.

    Jesse Jackson is a true blooded racist.This is what gives blacks a bad name...

    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. James, Minneapolis, MN

    I would like to reiterate my call for people to stop talking about racial issues and for CNN to stop reporting news in general. Please people almost 400 comments about this most of you dont care either way.

    Thanks CNN this is highly irresponsible just cause people talk about it doesnt mean they should.

    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. JB Boston MA

    To Awake and Alert:

    I posted above you at about 3:40. You seem to have a complete understanding of the facts. It seems to me, you are over confident, but I will ask again. Where are you getting your facts? Please post web addresses. I guess many of us are unaware of the facts. As far as Jesse and Al are concerned, I believe that the good that they have done has been overshadowed MANY times by the bad they have done. What is your opinion on the Duke case? How about Tawana Brawley? The bottom line is, just as many have posted before, those two only perpetuate racism by insighting reverse racism. For that, they are wrong and always will be. And truthfully, without racism they become even more irrelevent. Maybe deep inside, they don't want it to go away.

    PS- slow day at work : )

    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. christian, selden, ny

    Awake & Alert

    good post, i still am unsure about this whole jena 6 situation as you can see in my other posts i put up. but your write people only see what they are fed and i feel like its the same thing with this jena 6 story. this is a lot of wholes in what happened and none of us really know the truth on both sides....

    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |


    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Comments are all over the map.
    It seems to me that the Old-Sage-Sitting-Under-the-Oak-Tree counsel applies here. "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time".

    Mr Obama, this is it for you. You will never recover.

    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I think this is OVERRATTED

    September 19, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Aaron, Reno, NV

    Jessie's comment says one thing to me, raciest. Isn't he suppose to be against racism yet he preaches it?

    September 19, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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