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. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Are some of you people kidding, IS THIS (Jena 6) a racial issue? YES, YES, and YES. Black Boys were being tried as an adult and charged with attempted murder for beating up a white boy, (and NO not to death) that boy was released from the hospital within a couple of hours with a couple of bruises. lets look at some facts

    * white boys hang nooses, (they get suspended)
    * white boy pulls a gun out on black boys at a store (no charges brought)
    * black boys wrestle gun away from white boy (charged with theft)
    *black boys beat up a white boy (charged with murder)
    BY Who????
    A white prosecutor, an all white Jury and a white Judge.

    GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. And believe me Jesse is not the only one making a big deal of this, 100's of Thousands of people will be at the March.

    Posted By Yolonda Barkley, Rockford IL : September 19, 2007 1:32 pm

    Yeap, that about sums it up! The way these kids were treated as opposed to the treatment that the white kids received in similar circumstances was blatantly racist. I'm not African American and I still cringed when they showed the disparity: white kids were released, black kids were charged with attempted murder and treated as adults. Shameful!

    On the other hand, Jesse should cool it and stop with the rhetoric against Obama.

    September 19, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. angie, alex, va

    wowwww...some of you guys are RACISTS!!!! tsk tsk...i feel likes some ku klux klan among you. sad.

    September 19, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Jaime Facchino, Charlotte, Nc

    if jesse is wants to improve racial relations, then he needs to stop making racist comments, ie, 'acting white' (whatever tha means.) majority of white people i know have moved on and are not racist. majority of black people i know... the same; however, there just still some poeple that just wont let it go.. THUS... there will always be some form of racism until both sides 100% move on and forgive. STOP BLAMMING WHITE PEOPLE... good example: cary, in (80% black and 2nd highest murder rate in the usa – black mayor, black city council, black police chief/officers)

    September 19, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. chris, Richmond, VA

    Racism is not just white against black. There is racism both ways and this seems to be forgotten. Blacks are extremely racist and against their own people just based off of their skin tones or whether they are truly from Africa. This is hypocrisy. Jesse needs to apologize on a radio show I think. That was very racist of him. What does he really mean, "acting like a white person?"

    September 19, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. A., Montgomery, AL

    Awake and Alert: wonderful message! thanks for posting it!

    our first mistake as a society is that we depend solely on the information gathered from the media, which is almost always tainted in some way. the events that transpired prior to the alleged attack of the white student are not being publicized. so yes, in this case it is very much a race issue. if you are confused in any way or have any questions about the jena 6 case, i encourage you to visit "" to become educated on what is going on. the white student might have gone to the hospital, but he wasn't beaten to death. he went, was discharged the same day, and was out attending a school function that night. obviously his injuries were a lot less severe than the injuries that the black student sustained at the hands of several white students (whom received no charges). having a tree classified as a "white tree" is RACIST. hanging a noose from this "white tree" after black students desire to sit beneath this tree is RACIST. mr. bell's previous juvenile record is of no consequence here. what is of concern is that the town of jena, la is racially divided on every end of the spectrum; and in 2007 that fact alone is truly deplorable. if you have concerns with what may or may not be occurring in your area and/or across the country then take a STAND. but don't you dare question the work that others are doing to fight injustice everywhere. because the fact is, THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING, while others are doing nothing at all but complaining about matters that they know nothing about. educate yourselves before you open your mouth. WORDS ARE VERY POWERFUL, SO CHOOSE THEM WISELY!

    September 19, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Kyle - Ypsilanti, MI

    Another hypocritical racist moment from Jesse Jackson. This one should cost him his job, just like Imus.

    Remember when the Duke players were being accused of raping a black woman? Jackson was calling for their heads. Now that the situation is reversed, the black students are being treated "unfairly" because of their race.

    Further proof (as if we needed any) of the racial double standard in this country.

    September 19, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Jessica, Springfield, Missouri

    First, should Jackson really be giving political advice on presidential campaigns when his were so wildly unsuccessful?

    Secondly, I don't understand why Obama isn't "black enough". He's intelligent, articulate, ambitious...but he's not "black enough" because he's not playing the race card with his campaign?

    September 19, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Kendall, Belmont, California

    Once again the cadre of old line community leaders are trying to rope Obama in to their camp of race spinning. Individuals such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are afraid of being politically irrelevant as Obama continues to appeal to more than just African Americans. They have failed again to bait him on issues that, while important, demand more than just a knee jerk reaction. Instead, like any candidate that seeks to be President of ALL Americans, Obama is raising such issues as part of a national dialogue. He's got my vote.

    September 19, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. James, Tallahassee, FL

    Yet again Jesse Jackson is at the forefront of any event that he can twist to be "the MAN putting the poor black oppressed people down." When will our nation ever get past black vs. white. And quite frankly, MLK would be ashamed of the way that JJ continues to try to polarize this nation along racial lines.

    September 19, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Lauryl, New York, NY

    I think that Jesse Jackson should be ashamed of himself. Whenever something really only should be a "human vs. human" issue as it usually is, he always has to open his mouth and throw out the words "white vs. black". Those are words that no one was using, or even making an issue of, until he opens his mouth. If he would stop making race an issue then maybe he would realize that, believe it or not, race isn't always an issue. I'm a white girl, I have two black roommates and I love them to pieces ... even they've agreed that Jesse Jackson is an idiot who basically throws fuel into the fire. He needs to stop using words like "race" and "black vs. white" because thats how it turns it into that in the first place. We are all human, we are all equal. Some people need to just figure that out.

    September 19, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Tony, NY, NY

    What is acting like white mean? Was he "keeping it real" by having an illegitimate child from his extracurricular activity? Jesse and Al are biggest hypocrites in the minority movement. They bring the blacks down by making accusations to someone like Senator Obama. At the end, Jesse is just hurting only of his own.....

    September 19, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. LM, Ardmore, OK

    Hey, Rev, which half of Obama is acting white? And why aren't you all over Jena even if you are not a candidate?

    September 19, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Debbie, San Antonio, Tx

    I know if I were black I wouldn't want this guy speaking for me. Bill Cosby had it right when he said it was time for blacks to clean up their language, have fathers for their children, and get some education. It is not our fault anymore folks. Pull yourselves up and away from the Jesses and Als of this world who are only keeping you down. Jesse doesn't want to see a black man succeed because it isn't him. He only wants to keep his ugly face in the media. He has the moral character of a snake – wake up!!

    September 19, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Not A Jesse Fan, Miami, FL

    Um, Isn't Barack Obama half white?

    September 19, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. Moon, Houston Texas

    It's really unfortunate that so many people have opinions without really knowing what's happening in Jena, and are aptly able to put Jackson's comments in context. Indeed, if JJ said what was reported he should be ashamed. Although such comments are typical of an ol' guard whose lose clout and is desperately looking for press/air time. Nonetheless, please people check into the facts about Jena and you'll find disturbing events which led to law enforcement and judicial injustices. It is appropriate that the Jena 6 gets coverage and the prosecutor protested without pause.
    It's also shameful that we live in a country that so narrowly focuses citizenry attention on minutia like the OJ Simpson fiasco.

    September 19, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. RT, Homewood, AL.

    Wait, now WHO are the people saying that we need to overcome racial boundaries and work TOGETHER? What a star hypocrite, as well as a piece of crap this guy is.

    September 19, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. Phillip, San Jose, CA

    There is no such thing as "reverse racism" in the United States...

    September 19, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Elaine, Raleigh, NC

    He stirs up more trouble, but when he is proven wrong you never hear from him. I can't stand the man.

    September 19, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Ben, Buffalo, New York

    The problem with people like Rev. Jackson is that while they try to promote equality and the removal of racism from everything, they really become the racists. Attributing everything to race is bad, but accusing someone of "acting white" is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Who cares how you act? People can be who they want to be, and telling black people to act black is like telling white people that they are all supposed to act like yuppies or white trash. It just doesn't make sense, so don't do it. What is wrong with America?

    September 19, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |


    September 19, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Igor, Dallas, NC


    The problem is that Jesse is not acting.

    September 19, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Mike Stevenson, Rhode Island

    Blacks create their own problems, these days. Then they blame everyone else. Exactly why I have no use for them.

    September 19, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. K. Lee Arlington, TX

    First and foremost, i'm a black man and to hear jessie jackson say that bs is disturbing and i'm embarrassed. As a kid growing up i was picked on for "acting white". Nooo....I decided to speak proper english and expand my vocabulary and my parents groomed me to be a civilized person.
    With that being said I have one message for Jessie jackson......Shut the hell up and quit hating on Barack Obama. You'll never be on the same page as him!!!!
    As for jena 6, i stand neutral on the issue, but i pray for the 6 black boys as well as the white boy that was baddly beaten.
    This is 2007.....Its time for a change, and we need to tear up racism and live in a people! God bless.

    September 19, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. James P. Gailey

    "acting like he's white" ... wow... I didn't know you could act a color... maybe a "culture"... but not a color.. That Jesse, is why you'll never be elected president.

    September 19, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Aaron, Pennsylvania

    How does one act "black"? Is he supposed to be poor, from the south, a drug dealer and speak in ebonics? Because if that is acting black then why is it so wrong to act "white," which is, from what I understand as a white person, to be rich, live in the suburbs and drive a minivan. Is he less black because he did not suffer the same hardships many people in the black community suffer?

    Influential black people such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton push this negative stereotype of what it is to be black on their own people, doing them a great disservice. Black people are just as capable of making something of themselves as white people.

    "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton could take a lesson from this great man.

    September 19, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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