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.

Full story

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (828 Responses)
  1. Maria, from Corona, California

    Jesse...I find it amazing how far we have come trying to erase all color lines in the USA and You of all people come up with a remark like that...WOW it really saddens me for our future if the NAACP keeps people like you around! the NAACP should be ashamed or themselves! And these are the people protecting the black people...the same people putting down the black people...I am ashamed to call you African American...

    September 19, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. Doug, Ventura, CA

    What bothers me most is how politicians continue to speak for their majority all for the cause of elections. The worst perpetrator of racism is Jessie Jackson. The media continues to measure everything against race. No wonder the color lines cannot be erased. And Jessie even suggesting Obama is acting white. How do white people act, Jessie? Like they are the only ones trying to erase color lines? What those kids did was wrong. They should be punished, no matter what color they are. And I agree with Tony that parents need to better teach their kids tolerance. And Jessie needs to learn how to erase the color lines.

    September 19, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  3. Tony G, Dallas TX

    The barrage of comments in here is proof that the American people are tired of being divided into white and black. It is time leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton took head to the wishes of the people and realise they do not have to act all militant to be leaders. Jesee should know better than make such absurd statements. Obama is what America needs right now and applaud him for steering clear of such stone-age politics as advocated by Jesse, Al et al. Obama spoke out unequivocably against the Jena 6 injustice and he did the much he could do. The fact that he was not shouting on top of his lungs does not make him any less black. In any case, what is acting white. Shame on you. Go Barack and take your rightful place in leadership. The time for political junkies..Jesee and Al are over. Jesse, sit your five dollar ass down before we make change!

    September 19, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  4. Terri, Plantation, FL

    Obama's full statement...

    "When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it's a tragedy. It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions. This isn't just Jena's problem; it's America's problem."

    "There are a number of signs that the system is not working in this case. It's a problem when criminal charges are brought against some students for fighting, but not others. It's a problem when a public defender doesn't call any witnesses. And it's a problem when a prosecutor decides to try teenagers as adults for a school fight, a charge that could leave them in jail for the majority of their lives. That is why I join my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus in calling on the judge to consider all the relevant factors and calling on the District Attorney to drop the excessive charges brought in this case. And I, along with other members of the CBC, will continue to monitor this case closely."

    "Going forward, we have to fix our criminal justice system. Whether it's Jena 6 or Genarlow Wilson, it's long past time for us to admit that we have more work to do to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair. We must ensure that both victims and defendants can receive equal justice under the law, regardless of race, wealth, or other circumstances."

    You know, it's SO unlike the media to take a sentence or two out of context and manufacture a false, sesationalistic story for ratings, or for a writer to misquote someone... yeah... that was sarcasm!

    September 19, 2007 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  5. Eduardo, Los Angeles, CA

    He should not call himself a "Reverend." He continues to divide Races instead of uniting...same goes for Sharpton.

    September 19, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. bprossersme

    Jesse's jealous of Obama.

    September 19, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. Arthur, Immokalee, Florida

    Jesse Jackson has been out of the spoltlight for quite a some time, there he is again doing exactly what gave the name recognition which advocating racism. His return is no surprise to me neither the path he has chosen.

    It is so unfortunate that some people who may be educated, so hard working and with big recognition like Jesse can become so self destructive. I have a lot respect for Jesse. But Helas! That man keeps destroying himself at the speed of light. That is a disgrace.

    Is he being jaleous or plain lost in the middle of his destructive racial rethorics? We are more than two decades from the 60's and Jesse is more than two decades away from reality. When will we be safe from those one-sided civil right leaders? That's a shame.

    Who ever defined civil right as a BLACK issue to Jesse? What Happens to education, health, safety, employment and every else about the pursuit of happiness as decribed in the constitution? I think we can forgive Jesse. He has just lost touch with reality.

    By the way why personally calling on Barack Obama to make that thing a national issue? Is Jesse retiring? I think that is his job as a self-proclaimed civil right leader. That man just TV. Why doesn't he just buy airtime on one of those big channels out there.

    Well, I am not promoting but I think that Obama is smart enough to do get himself involved in any stupid racial mess. In the meantime, Jesse Jackson and Al with all due respect, they need to stop destroying themselves. As reverend, they need to talk love, forgiveness, justive, equality.

    September 19, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  8. Andrew, Jakarta, Indonesia

    Jesse Jackson has had decades to bring about racial reconciliation in America, but failed, as this latest incident proves. While I understand his frustration, he should leave the fight to a new generation that might actually make a difference, where he could not.

    September 19, 2007 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  9. Gloria Meccanovich, Lake Forest, IL

    Uhmmmm .... fascinating! This is USA in the 21st century and we are still talking about b&w? I thought those primordial grudge, resentment and rancor have been left behind.
    Well, sure enough, like religion, race doesn't mix well with politics and the Rev should have been wise enough to judge that.

    Are we moving backward?

    September 19, 2007 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. Linda - Albany, NY

    Ah, the infamous race card, thrown in once again to bolster hatred by Mr. Jackson...but where is his side-kick, Sharpton. These two are nothing more than spiteful racists, pitting black against white and spewing utter crap from their lips.

    What amazes me more is that there are people still out there that actually listen to this garbage.

    September 19, 2007 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  11. Andy, Madison, WI

    Jesse Jackson's an idiot.

    September 20, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  12. Annoyed, NYC

    While I do not agree with Jesse Jackson's statement, I am not moved to say that the case in Jenna is simply "degenerates getting what they deserve". We are talking about the heart of the South. People in urban areas especially in the Northern states deal with a great deal less amount of racism then those in smaller rural areas both up here and down south. I would never hear of a white person commenting on racism or the plight or struggles of black people because you have not nor will you ever know what it means to be black. Racism is so subtle I myself have to catch my own prejudices. We are programmed with out even knowing it. Jesse's comment was ignorant, extremely ignorant. But I am sure in acting white he meant an impartiality to what is happening to these boys. Obama, however, is a man of African and white decent. He may be African American in the most literal sense of the term, but as far as experiences go, he may fall on other end of the spectrum. This doesn't make him more or less qualified to run this country. It just makes him someone that will do what is best for the country and not necessarily what is best for blacks. However, I believe that what is best for the African Americans has to start in our communities and work its way outward.

    September 20, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  13. Tired right-sider, U.S.

    Why is everyone assuming that African Americans are going to vote for either Obama or Clinton. Their are some that would rather stand with the stronger of the two parties and vote republican, seeing how they are the more christian friendly party and on the whole, religion is a bigger part of most black Americans lives than white Americans. Its just that you usually have some vote grubbing Democrat trying to convince black voters that their party is in support of minority rights/and reform, while not telling them how high taxes will increase at the lower income level. The rise to power of hip-hop and rap performers, now creating a genre giant industry in the entertainment feild, is note-worthy capitalism to any Republican.

    September 20, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  14. I have a dream

    Wouldn't it be nice if the politics of triangulation backfired and the black community said: "We see right through you, Mr. Jackson. You are defaming Senator Obama's character without just cause because Senator Clinton is losing ground in South Carolina. And now Bill can show up in Jena tomorrow and the black community will think that the Clinton's really care about us". Wouldn't it be nice if we could all see this as the set up that it really is. You have strengthened our resolve, Mr. Jackson, and Senator Obama will win in South Carolina and throughout this country. We will have an honest president who will unite this country rather than divide it. And then we will call you Judas.

    September 20, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  15. David, Seattle, WA

    Jesse Jackson is the biggest racist around. IF ALL BLACKS ACTED WHITE WE'LD HAVE A MUCH MORE CIVILIZED AND INTELLIGENT SOCIETY. As for Obama, he can try and act white but he's still a black-ass in and out...

    September 20, 2007 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  16. Sam, Pasadena, Texas

    You're right Jesse, Obama isn't black enough. That's why he's a serious candidate. As soon as he acts black enough, or Hillary acts woman enough, or Richardson acts Hispanic enough, or the others act white enough, I'll rule them out. I want a candidate who acts American enough. They aren't running for President of fill-in-the-minority, they are running for President of the United States of America. When you figure that out, you'll understand why you lost.

    September 20, 2007 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  17. anonymous. Estherville, IA

    Jackson, don't you and Sharpton ever get tired of being individuals of dark pigmentation engaged in the tree cutting industry? It's bad enough you both sound like whiny old men who should have been taking Prozac instead of Geritol, but to inject your racist views just to get your name back in the news goes beyond the pale. Conducting oneself in a civilized manner is "acting white"? Too bad that attribute didn't rub off on you.

    September 20, 2007 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  18. RA,Cary,NC

    Question for Reverend Jesse Jackson: Should Obama act like a 'sterotype Black'?

    September 20, 2007 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  19. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    Obama is acting like he's white?

    Wow... that isn't racist at all.

    I think Jackson wakes up every day and says to himself, "I wonder how I can discredit myself today?"

    September 20, 2007 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  20. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Jackson offers blacks nothing more than victimhood, and continued feelings of persecution and inferiority.

    September 20, 2007 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  21. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    Barak Obama has class! Jesse has many personal issues....

    September 20, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  22. Industry, East Saint Louis, IL

    This is ridiculous, but not for the same reasons that white america pretends that it is. Its ridiculous that the MEDIA still makes Jesse Jackson and Sharpton relevent. Hey, they may chase cameras but those cameras always stop for them when they notice that they're "chasing" them.... and as for as the reporting goes on the Jena 6....

    I'm tired of National Media covering this story as "Black Kids Beating up a white kid" but they always leave out the OTHER crap in this story such as the WHITE KIDS THAT BEAT UP THE BLACK KID or the white kid pulling a shot gun on black kids but when the black kids wrestle the gun away from the kid, the black kids are charged with THEFT for STEALING the shot gun?!?! How about the District Atty calling an assembly for noone but the BLACK kids and telling them "I can take away your life with the movement of my pen...."

    Its AMAZING that no one mentions that the "deadly" weapon used to "beat the white kid" was a tennis shoe.

    Now white america, I think the issue of race is overstated as well and overly used and Jackson and Sharpton have made a career from race baiting, but you are KIDDING yourselves if you all are going to pretend as though racism doesn't exist. I guess you all sleep better at night by pretending as though it doesn't...... hey, what ever floats your boat..

    September 20, 2007 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  23. Van, Raleigh NC

    These comments are sometimes illustrative, and often hilarious. If you want the truth in a story, go to the small town newspaper! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha. I'm from a small town, and our newspaper was NEVER influenced by local politicians and power brokers. :-) Defenders of Jena don't address how the life-threatening white on black violence that preceded the black on white violence was treated by the "justice" system in Jena. How about simply treating crime equally?

    September 20, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  24. JB Boston MA

    You know the truth is after reading every post. . . other than a couple of yahoos, the majority of the racial comments come from people who claim to be minorities. "If you are black and are insulting Rev. Jackson you should go to hell". In addition, there are so many untruths floating around out there. It blows my mind that a white kid showed up with a "machinegun" and the six blacks disarmed him, gave him a black eye and sent him on his way, in time to make the school dance, and get his ring. WE NEED THE TRUTHS CNN!!!

    September 20, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. ibrpe

    Gosttaria de comentar esta notícia

    September 20, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34