September 19th, 2007
06:10 PM ET
3 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. Ayveel, Dallas, TX

    I think the Jena 6 case is something people should pay attention to. But who am I to say what you should pay attention to.

    It would be wonderful if presidential candidates, black, white, hispanic, and mixed would shine some light on this topic. It would be wonderful if they would take time from their ambitions in order to let the world know that racism is alive and well.

    What people don't realize is the cruel punishments given to these guys while the white guys go scott free. Yeah, the white guy who brought the machine gun, nothing done to him. That is why people are upset. This happens everyday in America to African-Americans.

    What Obama, Clinton, Guliani, Romney, and others could bring to this situation is light. Then people on a huge scale would understand that this is something we will not allow to happen.

    It is the inactivity by presidential campaigns in events like this that make people think that they don't care.

    ON the other hand, Jesse should chill out. It is a known fact that everybody including myself adjusts ourselves and speaking voices and dialects to our environment. I am black college student who is in class with 250 white kids and only 3 or 4 other blacks. While I don't talk naturally with slang and slurs, I can't talk that way with them. I must be proper and understood. I try to be proper around blacks and it is okay. But I do get that, "That ain't the way you talk. Stop acting like you better than us."

    Not all blacks from the hood or ghetto talk with slang and slurs. We articulate our opinions and speak with proper English. We don't speak or act white, we act RIGHT.

    Got it.

    September 19, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Christopher Baxter, New York NY

    Honestly..."If I were a candidate, I'd be all over Jena"...that is why he would never be able to run a sucessful bid for the house...he just can't see the bigger picture

    September 19, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. DJ, Elgin, IL

    Its funny – Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are usually the butt of jokes told by members of their own race. I've never heard an African-American comedian say a word about Obama...I wonder why. Jesse needs to understand that sometimes when there is an opportunity to speak, especially in a situation that will not benefit for the listener, he should just SHUT the F*#! UP!

    September 19, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Glenn, Allentown, PA

    Here we go again. Now its bad to be "too white". If I was to label a black politician as "too black" I'd be labeled a racist. Maybe Jessie is hanging around Donovan McNabb too much?

    September 19, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Aaron, Indianapolis Indiana

    While the Jena 6 case clearly is a showcase of disparate justice, Jesse is a complete hypocrite to criticize Obama when he, nor Sharpton, nor the NAACP have made any comment at all about the Dunbar Village gang rape case in West Palm Beach, where a black single mother was raped by 10 black men and forced to perform oral sex on her 12 year old son at gunpoint.

    This calling people white because they don't chase the cameras at every opportunity to sensationalize a controversial issue (deserving or not) is the kind of crass race hustling behavior that has greatly diminished Jackson in my view.

    September 19, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Paul, atlanta, georgia

    Jackson is so predictable. "Jena" as a "defining moment "in civil rights history is absurd. Sadly, I fear Mr Jackson craves relevancy so badly that he wishes it were so.

    September 19, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. 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 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    Any Black Leader who sees the Jena 6 issue as a graver threat to advances of African-American progress in America than the the current black-on-black crime,Crack Cocaine addiction or AIDs crisis is more interested in headlines

    September 19, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. Darrin, Seattle, Washington

    You would think that after Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Jerry Lewis and Don Imus putting their foot in their mouths and being crucified for such inapropriate comments and beliefs that a comunnity leader such as Jesse Jackson would have the nerve to call some one "Acting White." If white america was to tell an african american or white person such a line they would be shot and hung by todays society. What a racist comment. An apology is sorely needed for that. It is unacceptable for any culture or race to say such stuff. What a joke.

    September 19, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Adam S., St. Cloud, MN

    For God's sake, shut up Jesse Jackson! Embrace Obama as a fellow black man running for the Presidency of the United States-and he has a decent chance of winning!!!

    And yes, part of that is because he acts white. We all know that if he acted black, he'd have no chance.

    September 19, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Shell D. , Washington, DC

    I am absolutely sick and tired of these so-called "black leaders" bringing down Barack. Barack does not see color when he talks about the issue that affects us all.

    Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton need to stop running towards the cameras...and leave Barack alone! They only focus on issues that get media attention.

    I am, quite frankly, sick and tired of them!

    September 19, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Nate, Columbus Ohio

    Yeah, saying that Obama is acting white is not racist at all. This is so hilarious to see Jackson's blatant hypocracy, because if anyone told anybody else that they were "acting black" while in Mr. Jackson's presence, that person would end up being labeled a racist and run out of town on a rail. So hilarious; even the ones who are fighting for civil rights don't know when to keep their big mouths shut.

    September 19, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. David Louisville KY

    Jesse...stop fomenting racial tensions and leave barack alone. You didn't get the job done in your presidential bid maybe being less of an angry black man will help barack be a president for all people not just black people

    September 19, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Thomas - Orlando Florida

    Fact: Obama is a solid contender for PUSA in '08 and has the funds to make a solid run.
    Fact: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton never came close, and never will.

    Question: Why should Obama take advice from Jesse or Al now?

    Answer: Jesse Jackson is upset that his cause is taking a back seat to everything else right now. It is unfortunate that the only way he can make a headline is by tearing down the first black candidate to pose a solid chance at becoming PUSA.

    September 19, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Mark, Rochester NY

    Jesse "IMUS" Jackson. Classic display of his double standard tactics he has used for years. What a hypocrite.

    September 19, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. TF, Cleveland, OH

    What happened in Jena is terrible and at least to me obviously racist. In reaction to Jesse Jackson's comment though – people seem to forget that Barack Obama is BIRACIAL. On top of that, there is no such thing as "acting black" or "acting white." He may cater to certain crowds depending on who is there – but think about human interactions in general, it is human nature to change the way you act depending on who you are with. When I hear or read in the news about things like this, I feel like we haven't come far at all in the past two centuries. Obama shouldn't be criticized for how he acts. If you don't like him as a candidate thats fine, but it should have nothing to do with whether or not he "acts" black or white.

    September 19, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Beth, Bloomington, IL

    This is someone whose whole life has been spent making blacks equal to whites. Isn't he furthering the divide by saying someone is acting "white"? Doesn't he want everyone to be treated equally? Then practice what you preach! And, besides, Barack IS half white.

    September 19, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. Dedicated citizen, KCK

    I have recently read up on the actions surrounding the case. Now, although I do not agree with the way the situation was handled regarding the young man who was beaten, I also do not agree with the way the judicial system handled the situation. I do not believe that those young men intended to kill the young man who was beaten on that day. If the circumstances were different, and the beaten occured amongst young men who were all of the same race (white or black) it would not have gone this far. Race is still a sensitive subject, believe it or not, and it is not okay for someone to degrade, talk down to, or mock someone else of a different race for that fact alone. It's not right. I feel that this is an issue that needs to be extinct before we are able to move on from it. Believe it or not, racism is still an issue today. It may be subtle, but it's still there.

    And as for Jackson and his comment, everyone is intitled to an opinion. What he said was not, by any means, the best thing to say, but he was just upset with the lack of attention concerning African American issues.

    I hope that no one allows Jackson's opinion to deter how they will feel about Obama or his campaign. Go by what you feel is right.

    September 19, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Eb

    As a black woman whose father and mother came here from Panama I am proud to say that I speak properly. Now when I'm with my girls I speak slang. However I hate it when people who are black say I try to act white. Since when is wanting to speak well is a white thing. My father never allowed slang in the house and I had to make sure that when I meet any of his friends I spoke properly. My father instilled in my sister and I that education was key to make a difference in the world and for us to go out there and make our mark. I am proud to say that I have been promoted many times due to the fact that I speak well and am educated. I speak to people all the time and I can hear the shock in their voice when they find out I'm black. It distresses me when I hear our own call each other names like Uncle Tom or that they are trying to be white. Would it be better if Obama greeted his potential voters with his pants sagging and yelling "What up white folks. How yall doin? Im doin fo shizzil up in this peace? Come on now. Leave Obama alone.

    September 19, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. Coach Haughton

    All of you should b ashamed of yourself, Jesse marched side by side with the late great Marting Luther King, Jesse is a civil rights pioneer, and if your black and making comments against Jesse you should smack yourselfd in the mouth and F.Y.I. the white boy that got the crap beat out of him, was released from the hospital the same day so he wasn't that injured, but go ahead White America laugh it up case ya'll finally got O.J. you've been trying from day one, and as for the the culture that glorifies sexism, violence and gangsterism, that's how America was created, we're a product of our enviroment, white folk taught us all that stuff, PEACE.
    In response I write;
    You are an example of the intelligence bracket that people like Karl Rove and Jesse Jackson seek to victimize. I don't know who is dumber. You or Tom from Macon with his Obama is muslim slander.

    September 19, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Drew, Seattle Washington

    How can Jesse Jackson continue to say that he is a civil rights leader when he makes such ignorant comments as this. By stating that Obama is "acting like he's white," Jackson is only promoting some type of stereotype against caucasians. If a leader of caucasian decent made a similar comment about someone "acting black" they would be blasted, deemed a racist, and forced to apologize. I think in any case, these types of statements are ignorant and unacceptable. Stop harrassing political candidates for acting or not acting in a manner that is supposed to represent his/her race or gender. Instead, embrace them for their message, for taking a stace on issues (regardless if you agree with them) and for not attempting to utilize race, gender, origin, etc. as a way to justify one's stance on an issue.

    September 19, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. Bruce Walts, Lakeland Florida

    Why would any candidate be as Jackson stated (all over Jena)? Isn't Jackson being a racist? There are far more crisis in our country than some blacks (or whites) for that matter getting into trouble. Why does Jackson never stand up for the white people, isn't he a religious man or just another loud mouth?

    September 19, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Neil Loudermilk, Oklahoma City, OK

    I'm very disappointed in Jesse Jackson. His comments only perpetuate the division of all people. By the way, I don't see anything negative about being white. Would there be an issue if I said "Jesse Jackson is sounding 'black' again?"

    September 19, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. White Working Class, Northern Virginia

    What a joke, Where in the Constitution does it say that black people are above the law. They are the ones acting like scoundrals. Jesse Jackson and his so called civil rights group are in my opinion more prejeduce and ignorant than the Ku Klux Klan

    September 19, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Antony, Dallas TX

    Jackson is afraid that he will be rendered meaningless to the African American cause by Obama. More and more blacks are realising that the days of Jesse and Al are over. He is one racist fool.

    September 19, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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