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.

Full story

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (828 Responses)
  1. Keith, NJ

    As a Reverend of God, Al, you should be teaching not only the black community but everyone about love, honor and respect for everyone. Not racism or hate. I think you should stop pulling the race/slavery card. Ok, slavery is an awful thing. But that was then. Focus on the present. And its not my generations fault or what I think, the North's fault. The South had all that back in the 1800's. Thats why we had the Civil War To abolish slavery. Read some American History! See, we white folks DO care! So you can pull the race card all you want Al, it makes you look stupid and racist.


    September 19, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Student, Tallahassee Florida

    Ok, so Obama acts white. Aparently that's a bad thing according to Rev. Jack-ass. I can't stand how Jackson, Sharpton, and countless others are so willing to point the finger at white people. I'm white and I've never had anything against blacks...but I'm getting so sick of being blamed and scorned because of my skin color. Why do people give idiots like this attention? The days of slavery are longggg gonneee was time to move on a long time ago. I have done nothing to you, and I don't want to do anything to stop blaming me for your problems.

    September 19, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    As long as black leaders believe that "acting white" is a bad thing, no one will be able to make progress. If staying in school, getting good grades, working at a steady job, staying with and supporting your family is "acting white" then what should blacks be doing.

    Jackson (who probably won't "recall" this story) tells of being followed one night down a dark street. He turned around and felt relieved that the people behind him were not black.

    Intelligent people are not listening to him anymore. Next thing we know, Jackson will be defending OJ again...

    September 19, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Jason LeRoy Mansfield, TX

    How does a person speak white, because Obama is an educated man and speaks proper English he speaks white how ubsurd and foolish does that sound and this coming from a so called black leader do you have to talk ebonics to be black this guy just Rev. Jackson just shows how ignorent he really is with a comment like that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth he wants a black leader to step up and do something but when one does he gets slapped in the face because a speaks proper English

    September 19, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. laurel, leonardtown, md

    Umm....Memo to Reverend Jesse Jackson: Barack Obama is white. And black. It's called being BIRACIAL. That's a little phenomenon that occurs when one parent is of one race, and the other parent is of another race. I'm sure Senator Obama has dealt with racially ignorant comments such as yours throughout his entire life. Should he favor one half of his heritage over another because his phenotype does not fully express his genotype? Has someone annointed you "The Decider" of what is "black enough?" Reverend Jackson, you are a jerk.

    September 19, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Byron, Portland, OR

    What a cheap shot!

    As the article points out, Obama DID in fact condemn the case. What is Obama supposed to do? Drop everything and run to Jena to "help" with a local issue that is supposed to be handled locally? (And it sounds like the appeals court is handling it just fine.) Would anyone vote for a candidate with that kind of hair-trigger overreactions?

    I've come to expect this sort of thing from Jesse and Al. I seriously hope people are not listening to Jackson or any other of these racial rabble rousers. It seems like they'll do anything to get in the spotlight.

    Go Obama!

    September 19, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Nick

    Sorry he never had an illegitimate kid, Jesse.

    September 19, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Blake Gubeli Salt Lake City Utah

    I am sick and tired of people who claim to have dedicated their lives to promoting racial equality and then keep slandering and insulting races other than their own. Our buddy Jesse needs to start worrying about people in general and get off of this color fixation he has. With the number of times he has stuck his foot in his mouth I really don't think I'll listen anymore. Sorry, I quit listening a few years ago.

    September 19, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. Glo, Atlanta, Ga

    I have been accused of "acting white" in the past, mostly by black people. Can anyone define the word "black". Why is it that black people pigeon-hold and stereotype themselves. It is a sad fact that the black community is going to self destruct any day now due to stupidity. Jesse Jackson is just one of the many problems in the black community. He is a moronic imbecile and is often wrong and out of touch with the state of black America. Who elected him as leader, I sure didn't.

    September 19, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. John, KC

    "...several students jumped a white classmate, Justin Barker, knocking him unconscious while stomping and kicking him. The charges against the Jena 6 resulted from that incident.

    Parents of the Jena 6 said they heard Barker was hurling racial epithets. Barker's parents said he did nothing to provoke the beating.

    Barker was taken to a hospital with injuries to both eyes and ears, as well as cuts. His right eye had blood clots, said his mother, Kelli Barker. He was treated and released that day.

    Bail for the Jena 6 was set at between $70,000 and $138,000. All but Bell posted bond. The judge had refused to lower his $90,000 bail, citing Bell's criminal record, which includes four juvenile offenses - two simple battery charges among them." – from the CNN article

    So, if you take the race issue out of this (which is all Jesse and Al ever have anything to claim), you are left with the fact that these 6 boys together attacked 1 boy over nothing more than words. Since one of the attackers has a previous criminal record, one that includes 2 violent crimes, he got a stiffer punishment. The circumstances leading up to the attacke are a moot point. They still attacked him with the attempt to cause great bodily harm, or even death.

    If you add the race issue, the 6 boys should be accused of a hate crime, and be subjected to the penalties of such. If it were 6 white boys attacking 1 black boy it would be a hate crime for sure.

    Jesse should not be allowed to infulence the public via the media in this case. Jesse is a racist, and an anti-semite. He does not speak for all black people, even though he might claim he does.

    September 19, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |

    Unfortunately, Rev Al. Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the NAACP in general have fell off in there qwest for racial equality. They really need to do some re-evaluating! with that said...."JUSTICE FOR THE JENA 6"!=)

    September 19, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Richard Welling Austin Texas

    And they call white people racist. Someone needs to ask the Reverand what the he means when saying that someone is acting white. Sounds to me like the reverand thinks all white people are the same.

    September 19, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Ana, Chicago, IL

    Last I checked Mr. Obama was half white. Besides, what exactly does it mean to act white???

    September 19, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Travis, Tulsa, Ok

    J.J. is one of the Bisggest raciest we in The U.S.A. Have seen in the last 100 years. He need to get over himself and be more civilized...

    September 19, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Andrew, Warren Michigan

    Jesse Jackson is a idiot. Everything has to do with race with this guy. That's all he talks about...

    September 19, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Joe Bob

    A politically incorrect statement if I've ever heard one and profiling to boot.

    Sounds like Jesse needs a diversity refresher course.

    Rules of behavior need to apply to everyone regardless of race, sex...

    September 19, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    If it means NOT belting out bastard kids at a record rate with MULTIPLE "boyfriends", getting up in the morning and going to a J.O.B., sitting in class and getting an education, yeah, then Obama is acting white Jesse. How bleeped up does that sound?

    Do we have his words on tape or video?

    I have many black friends that do exactly what I do, get up, go to work and support their families, etc, etc and they always tell me how pissed off they are that these two charlatans get to speak for "black folks".

    Even though I don't always agree with Obama, I respect he and his wife immensely and it has bleep to do with the color of their skin or my white skin, it is about the content of their CHARACTER.

    Let's see if this story has any legs or the one where the Democrat denigrated the jews. Doubt it, they are Democrats.

    Hey, was that this months idiot, Larry Craig walking by.........

    September 19, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Amir C

    A bunch of young men (who happen to be black) beat up a young man ( who happens to be white) should penalize them heavily and punish to the fullest extent of law.

    Jesse Jackson's actions basically tell other young men considering such an act that "I'll be there to support you when you commit a crime".

    September 19, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Jay Martin, Rock Hill, SC

    Why is it that Black people continue to attack each other in the media. It seems that we still have not figured out that we need to present a united front and message, and disagree behind closed doors. Jackson should call Obama and voice his concerns and offers some advice from someone who's been the shoes Obama is in now. To help move him and the African-American race forward.

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Mike, Charlotte N.C.

    There is no way possible that Obama can speak on this case. HE IS TRYING TO WIN AN ELECTION!! It may sound noble of him to say that this is wrong and demand change, but if he does that then he is guaranteed to lose.

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Jackson's comment is as racist as the injustice he condemns. The cure for racism starts at home. How can Jackson rail against racism when he himself makes racist comments? I've heard Al Sharpton make the same type of comments in his speeches as well.

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. steve

    You can't expect much more from Jackson. He' is a fool, or, as J.C. Watts once put it so well, he's a "poverty pimp".

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Tai New Haven, CT

    Those black students didn't almost kill that white student and he wasn't hospitilized, he went to the emergency for minor issues and then went home and attended a party that same evening.

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. Yuseff Lenexa, KS

    I very much agree that was a stupid thing to say. Jesse should be ashamed of himself. Now as far as the Jena 6. NONE of those six kids had a criminal record prior to this incident. Someone mentioned that Micah Bell had 5 other convictions. Thats not true, he was give a total of 6 charges but they all stemmed from the same incident not from 5 separate things. What a lot of African Americans are inflamed about is that a white student brought a shotgun with 13 rounds of ammunition to school and threatened a Black student. The Black student managed to wrestle the gun away in scuffle and the Black student was then charged with theft of a firearm. The white student was charged with a misdemeanor for bringing the gun. Another white student broke a bottle over a black students head and was given a misdemeanor charge. When black students merely kicked a white student they were charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. Why? Their shoes were considered deadly weapons. A shotgun was not considered a deadly weapon. A broken bottle was not considered a deadly weapon but tennis shoes were. This is why Black people are so up in arms.

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. chad - Dallas

    I thought it was reported the beaten kid was released and went to party (or something) later that night...not almost beaten to death.

    September 19, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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