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. Paul Atlanta, GA

    Jackson continues his long tradition of being a disgrace to the ENTIRE human race.

    September 19, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. henry,orlando,fl

    im a young black male and i think cnn is doing the best to cover the jena case... i respect jesse jackson but he lost me a couple years back !!! let obama be obama... obama should tell jesses and al to have a drink of shut up

    September 19, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Kate Georgio, NW Arkansas

    >>>Obama formally released a statement on the case Friday evening after one of the teen's charges was thrown out, saying, “I am pleased that the Louisiana state appeals court recognized that the aggravated battery charge brought in this case was inappropriate."

    "I hope that today’s decision will lead the prosecutor to reconsider the excessive charges brought against all the teenagers in this case," he added. "And I hope that the judicial process will move deliberately to ensure that all of the defendants will receive a fair trial and equal justice under the law."<<<

    These kids broke the law, they almost killed another kid. Why is everyone in such an uproar. If it had been 6 white kids nearly killing a black kid Sharpton & Jackson & all the rest would be calling for the death penalty. You should look at your own reflection in the mirror before you start applying your convictions on others. What they did was wrong, white or black, they should be punished.

    September 19, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. Sera, Conyers GA

    How can a man claim he is civil right activist when he makes statement's such as "acting as if he is white"? Dr. King said the goal was NOT to make blacks better then whites, but to make color a non issue, with racist such as Mr.Jackson still out there it seems we are along way from what Dr. King had dreamed for this country

    September 19, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. Winfield G. James

    The Jena 6 issue is a local minor issue of which a national presidential candidate should not get involved. It is foolish for Jesse Jackson to believe that it is an issue which warrants Obama's or any other presidential candidate involvement. It is also an issue which does not warrant out-of-State demonstrators.

    September 19, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Debbie, Cheyenne, Wyoming

    When is Jesse Jackson going to stop being a racist? Acting reasonably has nothing to do with a person's color. Grow up, Jackson! This ain't the 60's anymore!

    September 19, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Don, Great Falls VA

    Jesse has been an "ambulance chaser" every since his political career ended - about 20 years ago. Just another case of Jesse reaching for the spotlight that will, thankfully, never shine his way again. Call OJ Jesse, he really needs your help!!!

    September 19, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. Tom Lobenstein, Montgomery, AL

    Jessie Jackson (and Al Sharpton) are as racist as any member of the Aryan Nation or the KKK. He and his ilk make their living stirring up emotions. Only by creating headlines and appearing to champion "the cause" does he ensure that his Rainbow Coalition treasurer will rake in the funds. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and their ilk are scam artists of the worst kind.

    September 19, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. Enoch, Nashville, Tennessee

    Why do we see every issue from a White/Black perspective. Does Barack have to come out in support of every Black person even if they are wrong? How about supporting Michael Vick or OJ Simpson? Obama is seeking to be the president of the United States of America and if you didn't know Rev Jackson, America is made up of Whites, Black, Hispanics, Asians, Europeans etc. The only thing that matters in Right or Wrong, this is the only honorable way to look at issues, I wish these so called leaders would learn.

    September 19, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. B, KC, MO

    Who's racist now? He needs choose his words more wisely if he's going to attack whites for racism, then turn around and make racist comments himself.

    September 19, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Catrina R., San Ramon CA.

    What is "acting white"? Such an ignorant comment...

    September 19, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. Nina S. Sacramento, Ca.

    As someone who is in a position to be heard and reported on Jesse Jackson should be more careful with the language he chooses to use. I cannot imagine any context where this comment, if he truly said it, would be appropriate.

    September 19, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Jennifer Tulsa, OK

    This angers me. This is what's wrong with America. Why can't people just "act" like themselves instead of having to fit into their ethnic groups. How did Jesse Jackson determine that Obama was "acting" white? I would like to know what Jesse Jackson's definition of black is.

    September 19, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Jeff from Jersey

    The Jesse Jackson's and the Al Sharpton's of this world prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that racism is riot in this country and the worst offenders are black.

    I live very near Rutgers University and the whole Imus flap proved that Sharpton and the circus he blew into town with did more to CAUSE racial division than a hundred Imus' cause.The Rutgers women couldn't have cared less what Imus said.It was Sharpton and the media that hurt those girls.This is just more of the same.If the situation in Jena were reversed no white person would dare to scream racism at least not in public.Everything being equal,there's more than enough hate to go around and Jackson keeps fanning the flames so he can still be a "STAR"!
    Don't forget,he was just a "gofer" for Mtrin Luther King JR.He got his "career" by running out on the balcony and smearing King's blood all over himself and seeking out every microphone and television camera he could find.Some defender of civil rights.The only rights he truly cares for are his own!

    September 19, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. Lucas, New York

    Its funny how if a white person were to say something along those sorts there is a strong reaction from the black community against the statements. But when Jackson and Sharpton say these kinds of things they get a free pass, I think there is a double standard in this country and by the way I think Jackson still has not apologized for those redneck comments he made a few years back.

    September 19, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. Chuck Johnson, Gallup, NM

    How about if Jackson quits acting STUPID!!!

    September 19, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. ryan kcmo

    jesse jackson is the biggest racist i have ever seen. if a white man would of said that jesse and al would be all over the TV crying like a bunch of babies. people like jesse and al make people racist.

    September 19, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. James, Myrtle Beach SC

    How exactly do you "Act White? Jessie Jackson is a RACIST!!

    September 19, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  19. Maria L. Richardson-Los Angeles, California

    I do not why but everytime that a white person do something to a black person, Jesse and all his clown friends, get very offended; however, I have never heard Mr. Jackson condemn when a black person abuse, offend, kill or do something criminal to a white or any other race, including blacks, individuals. He should remember that HE is not GOD, he calls himself a reverend and all he does is trying to make a name for himself. He should be ashamed of his behavior along with all his clown frinds that are going around making noises and calling descrimination every move by every individual in this country.
    HE NEEDS to wake up and smell the coffee. He is not the good samaritan that he wants to represent and he must change and see everyone color blind everytime that he makes his stupid comments.
    He is a disgrace to our society.

    September 19, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. Kevin, Columbus, Ohio

    Jesse Jackson is about the most irrrelevant person in politics today.

    The further Obabm distances himself from Jesse the better.

    By acting white Jesse must mean acting intelligent, speaking clearly, and appearing "American"

    September 19, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Lchambers, Willowbrook IL

    Jackson is entitled to one opinion, his own, not everyones. He would be wise to let all candidates present themselves in the fashion they deem appropriate and let the chips fall where they may. Jackson's role is not to define others agenda or position.
    His time to do that passed in the 80's when he lost his bid for President twice.

    September 19, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. Patricia

    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,as a Hispanic woman I found Jesse Jackson's comments to be very disgusting.

    September 19, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Bev, Dallas TX

    By and by, people still don't know the story. THE SEED OF RACISM WAS ALREADY PLANTED when the black kids asked the principal for PERMISSION to sit under the "white's only tree" on school property. The next day the nooses. The principal expelled the white youth but it was overturned by the superintendant and they were suspended. The next day black kid jumped at party by white group. The next day whtie boy has a shot gun and it was taken out of his hands by a black guy. Black guy is charged for having the weapon. DA comes to the school and in the auditorium where one side is black and the other is white points to the black guys and tell them he can take there lives away with a stroke of a pen. White boy taunts black boys calling them the n- and got his butt kicked. Attempted murder charges are filed against the black guys.
    You white people are in denial and now you think the black boys should go to prison for the rest of their lives. Get'em Rev Al.

    September 19, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  24. Willis, Phoenix, AZ

    "Acting white" does not necessarily suggest that someone is speaking articulate, working to support their family, etc. Furthermore, "acting black" does not automatically mean a person uses slang, has children out of wedlock, incarcerated, etc. (In fact, it seems a bit prejudice to make such statements. Notice the stark difference between the two statements: white = positive characteristics and black = negative characteristics). IF Jesse Jackson made this comment, I believe he was referring to the distance Obama has maintained from the situation. The Jena situation represents a bigger problem that directly affects black men in America. "Acting like he's white" referred to the fact that Obama, like many of his white counterparts, simply made a statement rather than taking a more active role in the situation. His counterparts can do so without criticism because in reality, the situation does not have the same implications on their lives. Obama on the other hand, should be able to relate to the issue more closely (theoretically) and willing to use his power/influence to make a stance. Jackson handled the situation wrong by making a public statement. As an Obama supporter, he should have voiced his opinion to Obama in private. By the way, many of you are giving incorrect information regarding the Jena situation (e.g., the white victim being almost beaten to death).

    September 19, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Eduardo, Miami, Florida

    “Your fight is not about ropes, it’s about hope,” Jackson said, blasting the flood of guns and violence he said permeates many black communities...
    Regardless of race, it all starts at what you teach your children for all eyes are upon you! Time to take action and set examples!

    September 19, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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