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. RuthieM

    Too bad, just because Senator Obama does not respond to every 'black' situation the way Jackson and Sharpton want him to, tough! Barack Obama never said he was a civil rights activist, like they are. He is a Senator running for the president of the United States for all people. Obama gave a response to the Jena 6 before any other candidate. Jackson and Sharpton need to curb their rhetoric of Obama, stand back, and give their support of him or shut up! How is Obama 'acting white'? What should he have done to 'act black', according to Jackson? I think no matter what Obama would've done or would do, it would not have been 'black' enough for Jackson and Sharpton, and that's unfortunate. My goodness gracious, if Obama tried to please all of the people (Jackson, Sharpton, etc.) all of the time, he'd surely be a basket case. That's why he should only try to please himself, knowing he's doing the right thing, whatever, whereever that may be, and in doing so, he is true to himself and to the people.
    As far as Obama 'needs to be bolder' in his stances against Clinton, maybe Jackson should write the script for Obama as to what he should do to be bolder, give him a call, send him an email, instead of Jackson shouting to the world, criticizing him, he should offer his 'help' if he thinks Obama needs him.

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Luke Chicago, IL

    So well educated and thoughtful equals acting white? No, Rev Jackson, it equals acting educated and thoughtful.

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. reza santorini, chicago, IL

    The Rev. Jackson is the divisive one. He treats insults to a black as if it never could be in the context of a full issue. The Jena Six are going to be okay and white America is upset. Our memories of the bad old race hate days are easily set off. These kids, at school, didn't deserve the nooses but tell the Rev. that some blacks have to learn to stop playing that race card. They are sick of it.

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Paul TX

    Acting White? Why? Because he dresses nice? Because his pants aren't hanging off his a** showing us underwear? Because he speaks proper English? Both Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are jokes in this country. If they only knew what morons they really were.

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Debbie, Franklin Square, NY

    Obama isn't acting white or black. He's acting like an American and presenting himself in a dignified and fair-minded manner, something neither Jackson or Sharpton ever tried to do. Jackson hasn't figured out that if you are to be a viable candidate for high political office in America, you cannot do it by constantly playing the race card. While that behavior generates media attention, it alienates the majority (both black and white) of the voting public who expect better from their public figures. Jackson should spend some time contemplating his own agenda and avoid trying to undermine Obama's chances in the upcoming presidential election.

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Tim

    Jesse Jackson just needs to stop. He's hurting more than he is helping. Isn't Senator Obama just as much white as he is black? Decisions... decisions!!
    I hope someday we live in a country where race is truly a non-issue, where people aren't accused of "acting white."

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Timea, Anchorage, AK

    I hate that the black community continues to disrespect each other instead of forming a unified front behind each other and pushing each other to be better. We continue to say such ugly things to each other... Barak Obama will never be who is destined to be without the support of his people. It's just disappointing.

    September 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Yolonda Barkley, Rockford IL

    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.

    September 19, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Gary Shefflied, Detroit Michiganistan

    Obama's Not All The Way Black

    September 19, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. James, Kansas City Missouri

    What is acting white? I'm white, can I act black. I got beat up for being white in Miami, Fl in the 70s. Was told it can't be racial even though it was blacks beating me, even though whites are (were) a minority in Miami. In my mind people are good or bad. I keep the good in my life no matter what color. America needs to get past skin color. We are all related genetically, master race flies out the window. That color crap need to go!

    September 19, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Jerry N. Aarons, chicago illinois

    Mr. Jackson, could you please describe how to act white? I checked the dictionary and could not find a definition. Please explain?

    September 19, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Mike - Mount Sterling, KY

    I can't understand Jackson thinking he is a REVEREND. He is for blacks and blacks ONLY. Haven't heard from Sharton, but sure we will. How can they be REVERENDS acting the way they do. They just instigate trouble.
    Mike – Mount Sterling, KY

    September 19, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Fed Up Human, Baton Rouge, LA

    Can someone please do me a favor, and remind me why we are supposed to care what J.J.'s opinions are, let alone react to them?! There is plenty of racism down here already, we don't a self-rightious bigot "stirring the pot". ...and like everyone else is saying... If you want to support your culture and heritage, SUPPORT Obama, for he has a credible chance at getting votes. As for Al and J.J. – Give it up. No One is Listening. No One Cares.

    September 19, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Sam; Lexington, SC

    Mr. Jackson, as well as Mr. Sharpton need to bring the crusade down a couple of notches. I have seen "The Reverend" Jesse Jackson speak on several occasions, and the only point he has to convey is that THINGS HAVE NOT CHANGED. He considers jails and prisons the modern day replacement of slavery; just another way for the white man to put the black man down. If anyone reading this column, or this comment truly believes that the modern day racist is the white man and that blacks are treated unjustly, you need to wake up and realize that the real issue is not whether are person is white or black. The real issue is, did the person responsible for the crime receive a reasonable punishment? In the Jena, LA case, neither side receive a fair and reasonable punishment. Keep in mind that if 6 white teens had beaten up a black teen over racial comments or gestures, "The Reverend" and his coalition would be calling for their heads on silver platters.

    Thanks for dealing with my rambling.

    September 19, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. Darrell S. San Francisco, CA

    My dream headline as an answer to this one? "Obama: Jackson's acting non-human". What is it with this stuff about Obama needing to "act black"??? How about Obama being a human being first who makes decisions based on the human needs of his constituents??? Jackson is insane, and getting crazier with each passing year.

    September 19, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. Justin Thomas, Athens, GA

    "Acting white" is a hasty generalization against caucasians that is Jesse Jackson's way to taking a negative twist on the positive influence of a prominent African-american to categorize him as a "white acting black". The real issue is his hatred toward the white race. Barack Obama presents himself in a charismatic and professional way to influence polices that would help blacks across America. Barak Obama has become a better leader for African-americans than Jessie Jackson and I sense some jealousy.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Simon Highlander Chico California

    Jesse Jackson is a bigot.
    Im sure if the defendants where white he wouldn't care. I wonder if Jesse Jackson knows that Obama if half white. I refuse to call him a reverend just like Al Sharpton. There ignorant bigots in there own right and THEY hold black people back.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. Lola Haynes Waco, Texas

    You know Jesse Jackson should be trying to help the young men in Jena and leave the politics to those who are running for office. I do not find Barak Obama's comments to be white. They were intelligent. Now,if Mr Jackson wants to explain to the African-American community why being calm and intelligent in your response is not the African American thing to do, them let him keep saying any African-American male in the media that speaks with intelligent is acting white. What's next? If an African American male is on TV eating at a Mexican fast food place, is he acting Hispanic? That sounds silly, doesn't it? That is just how Jesse is sounding these days.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. Dave

    If several white students had beat up one black student, Jackson & Sharpton would want the whites charged with felonies. What a hypocrite!! My bad, I forgot, acccording to you, racism only goes one way. Rev.Jackson , why don't you just worry about keeping your marriage vows, instead of having babies with your secretary.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. J. Princeton, NJ

    Responding to Jeff from VA:
    Jena wouldn't have happened if the white students did not hang nooses on the trees!!!

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. stan pitts, p.a

    jesse jackson is an idiot, obama is half-white and can claim that race too...acting white??? not even sure what that means, he is highly educated and shows good judgement so he is not black enough??? jesse is a loser...there are more appropriate ways of expressing himself in words and in action instead of trying to capture some of the spotlight, i smell his envy and it stinks, OBAMA08!!!

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. C. Mass, Washington D.C.

    I wonder how it would go over if a white politician said of another white person he "is acting like he's black" in response to their undying support for Michael Vick during the recent dog fighting debacle???

    And what exactly does it mean when you act like you are white?

    The only way to end prejudices and stereotyping is for EVERYBODY to stop using them.

    The actions and oft inflammatory comments from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and those cut from the same cloth have done more to strain race relations in this country than to improve them.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. dmt

    Jackson and Sharpton, two of the biggest biggots in this nation, they both should be jailed for their racist crap. Where in the hell are the rerverends churches at or is this a self proclaimed title.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Mike, New York, NY

    So how is it that Jackson does not get slammed for saying someone is "acting white." I hear so much talk from him about people making derogatory comments about black. Tell me Mr. does one "act white?"

    September 19, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. TW, Sacramento CA

    This is in response to JB in Boston MA. Yes, everyone should be punished for what they do (both blacks and whites), but from what I read, evidently they didn't (almost) killed the white student because he was at a party that same night. So if 6 people beat someone as they are claiming this white student was beaten, why was he not in a hospital for a for days instead of at a party the same night. Now, as for Obama, if he is talking one way when he's around blacks and another way when he's around whites, he needs to just be hisself.

    September 19, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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