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. Lon, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

    I am not a big fan of Mr. Obama, but Mr. Jackson is once again showing that he is out of touch. Maybe Barack Obama is simply being non prejudice. Mr. Jackson is the most prejudice man I have ever seen.

    September 19, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  2. Doc, Rox, NC

    Nice going Jesse! Keep shooting your racist, stupid mouth off and ruin the chances for America to get something good going.

    September 19, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  3. Bill, Grand Rapids MI

    Jesse Jackson is simply a racist. How can he say that? If a white man in power, such as the President of the United States said that, the NAACP would be all over it. I think blacks should start apologizing to us after all they continue to put our race through.

    September 19, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. Marc Anthony Oak Park,IL

    So, now Jesse is saying all white people hope these kids go to jail. I have to say Jesse is for Jesse. He always thinks of himself first. I think he wakes up every morning and says Jesse what can i do to make myself look good. Jesse, why don't you do some real good and get all the black leaders together and try to figure out how to stop all the violence in black communities. Oh nevermind that would not make Jesse look good at all. What a joke.

    September 19, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. c d bagwell, Greenville, sc

    And what, Mr Jackson, is wrong with acting white? Do you think that acting black is the only way one should act?

    I think it's time that white people band together and stand up for THEIR rights as we are becoming less and less united in this great nation of ours.

    September 19, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. Z, Pearl Harbor, HI

    I think this issue has back-fired for Mr. Jackson. He preeches equality for Blacks and then attacks Mr. Obama for not immediately falling in line with his real message of "blacks first" no matter what. It's unfortunate that Mr. Jackson continues to build a wall between the races when the country has worked so hard to pull them down.

    September 19, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. Gary, Enfield, CT

    This confirms Jesse Jackson remains a racist. Black America, I implore you to rise up and condemn this idiot. He only hurts the march toward equality!

    September 19, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. marie, tx

    His statement "acting white" is absurd and racist!! Color shouldnt mean anything.

    September 19, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  9. Judith Liebaert Solon Springs, WI

    Shame on the Rev. Jesse Jackson. I believe that when Martin Luther King told us all he had a dream, part of that dream was that his children and grandchildren would live in a world where a man was judged not by the color of his skin, but by the quality of his character.

    By accusing Senator Obama of "acting like a white person", Jackson infers that Obama should act in a certain way based solely on the color of his skin.

    If I close my eyes, and listen with my mind, and draw conclusions based on what is best for all concerned, then the color of the speakers skin is irrelevant.

    Judith Liebaert
    Solon Springs, WI

    September 19, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  10. Northern California

    Martin Luther King would be upset with you Mr. Jackson. Instead of fighting for the justice of ALL PEOPLE in the HUMAN RACE...your still pitting Blacks against Whites. While I may not be 100% for Obama, he has to play a political role to ALL AMERICANS, not just to blacks or whites, or mexicans, or arabs...but to ALL AMERICANS...all of us. To say he Acted white, or black, or arab is just plain stupid. You cant please everyone...but you can NEVER please Jesse Jackson...he's just too angry and bitter.

    September 19, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  11. Sarah, Colorado Springs, CO

    African American people are constantly expecting "white" people to quit stereotyping, quit being prejudiced, and take them seriously. How can "white" people take an African American seriously if he or she cannot even respect those African Americans that are attempting to better this country? As soon as an African American has a famous person on their side who is not a gangster rapper or prejudiced Afican American like Kanye West, they turn their back on them calling them "white." What is "white" anyway? The ability to say the word "ask" rather than "axe?" The ability to gain respect from all races? To me this is a sign of an educated, intelligent AMERICAN, not a "white" person. Leave it to Mr. Jesse Jackson to turn his own people against eachother.

    September 19, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Mike, Kearney Nebraska

    Thats pure racism there!! If I as a "white" person were to tell my friend stop acting like a "black" person that would be flagged as racism. This has to stop.

    September 19, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. Star, Waco, TX

    How can someone "act white"? What exactly is that supposed to mean? Is it because he's well-mannered and sounds educated? As an African-American, I am very disturbed by the connotations behind that statement.

    September 19, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  14. Valerie Portland Oregon

    First what in the heck does 'acting white mean'? And to me, a white person, what the heck is wrong with 'being' a white? I am so tired of being put down for being white, are we ever going to judge people solely on character? From the history books, all of us at some time or another were not treated fairly by other races or creeds or religions. Can I blame the Saxons or Romans for coming into England?

    September 19, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. Mr. C, Ann Arbor, MI

    Apparently Jesse never heard this one: 'Tis better to keep one's mouth shut and be though a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Not the exact quote, but you any intelligent person will understand. That leaves "daJesta" out, it's not black enough.

    September 19, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. in NC but from Winn Parish, LA

    I've been following the entire story for the past month. You have to read the local papers, The Town Talk ( and The Jena Times ( to get anything accurate. The MSM has butchered the facts.

    As for Mr. Jackson – what a piece of hypocritical trash. You do not deserve to be addressed as "Rev."

    September 19, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. Bob Charlotte, NC

    Jackson is acting "GREEN"! as in green with envy because no matter how hard he tried he could not connect with white america half as well as Obama. You have no political power Mr. Jackson you are nothing always have been.

    September 19, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  18. Enikan, Ann Arbor MI

    This is what beats me with some of these so called leaders. Jesse Jackson perpetuating a stereotype he should be trying to dispel. That one expects that a black person should act a certain way is in itself silly. Because I am black I must subscribe to certain ways of life that the Rev. Jesse Jackson considers black? Fine, as people of the same skin tone we probably all share certain sentiments and even realities. But please, we are all beings who have rights to make decisions on how we want to act regardless of what authority Jesse Jackson thinks he commands. I mean give us and yourself some credit, we actually have brains and our skin color doesn't do all the thinking for us. As the Yorubas will say, Jesse Jackson Agbaya!

    September 19, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Brian west somerset kentucky

    that is racest remark take him off the air. now.

    September 19, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  20. Scott Bramschreiber San Jose California

    What a HYPOCRITE !!! Jackson's the first one to scream racism and then uses racism to get HIS point across as if being White was bad.Racism is Racism pure and simple .It doesn't matter who's saying it. It's amazing that politics and religion share the "do as I say ,not as I do" philosophy.That to me is the REAL moral decay in this country !!!

    September 19, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  21. Noxise, Tallahassee, FL

    jesse is a piece of whale excrement laying at the bottom of the ocean. I wish he would just have a heart attack and die. He is a COMPLETE EMBARRASSMENT to the black race. What an ass!!

    September 19, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  22. D. Siebenaler

    Figures, the Rev calling a spade a spade when someone doesn't act in HIS best interest. Isn't it about time we treat everyone on their morals, beliefs, actions and give up the color thing. These people in power are the FIRST ones that need to shut up about color and creed and talk about an individual on their merits as I said before. Makes me ill...

    September 19, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  23. Brad, Syracuse, NY

    Act white? You mean educated, with a knowledge of the english language and not ebonics or ghetto slang? How would we look with Sen Obama as our President to the rest of the world, if he talked ghetto black? Even black people are racist against blacks, i guess they ran out of people to blame their problems on so they go after someone who actually did something with himself. Who's next? Bill Cosby?

    September 19, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  24. Phyllis Ellison, Littleton, CO

    I am a black woman, and I came home from work today to hear these ignorant tired azz comments made by this holy than thou, Jessie Jackson? Jessie needs to sit down in a corner and shut up! I am angry as hell by these comments against Obama. Acting white? I just can't believe these idiots. Obama needs to distance himself from this these low-minded people. Obama08

    September 19, 2007 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  25. David, Dumfries, VA

    Didn't the good Reverend lose everytime he ran? What makes him the subject matter expert? Hey Rev. Jackson, maybe you lost because you were a little "too" black.

    September 19, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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