November 27th, 2007
01:20 PM ET
4 years ago

Jesse Jackson: Dem candidates ignoring blacks

Jackson is highly critical of the Democratic presidential candidates in an Op-ed Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a high-profile backer of Sen. Barack Obama's White House bid, says all the Democratic presidential candidates are ignoring African-American issues except former Sen. John Edwards.

"The Democratic candidates - with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans' Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign - have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country," Jackson writes in a Chicago Sun-Times Op-ed appearing in Tuesday's edition.

"The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention," Jackson continued. "No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, Louisiana, not one candidate showed up."

Jackson, who endorsed Obama's candidacy earlier this year, previously caused a headache for the campaign when he reportedly told a South Carolina audience in September that the Illinois Democrat is "acting like he's white."

Criticizing the Democratic candidates' response to the case in Jena, Louisiana, Jackson also said then Obama needed to be "bolder" in his stances if he hoped to do well in South Carolina - a state in which African Americans constitute more than 50 percent of Democratic primary voters.

Following those comments, Jackson later issued a statement reaffirming his support for Obama and commending him for "speaking out and demanding fairness on his defining issue."

But in Monday's Op-ed, Jackson writes, "it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes."

In response to Jackson's comments, the Obama campaign notes the Illinois senator unveiled a $6 billion package of programs in July that aims to combat urban poverty.

The plan includes the creation of affordable housing and jobs, providing education and financial support for parents, and creating an institution modeled after the World Bank specifically for America's cities.

Obama campaign spokesperson Candice Tolliver told CNN, “We encourage Rev Jackson to closely examine the Senator’s platform and take another look”

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (252 Responses)
  1. jack,phoenix,az

    Hi dee ho, here we go. Jessie just cannot stay out of the limelite. Everyone is going thru hardships right now, black and white.

    November 27, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Nate S., College Station, TX

    Rev. Jackson and Sharpton need to get over themselves. The biggest issues that are troubling today's African American community are the same as those troubling the white, Asian, and Hispanic communities.
    Health care for the young and the elderly, the constant battle with improving upon the education system, upgrading this country's infrastructure, and maintaining credibility in the global arena are the priorities that are at the forefront of this election year. Not one of those issues has a lick to do with race. The way the two of you conduct yourselves is no better than the Westboro Baptist Church. Hell, I'm still waiting on on Al Sharpton's apology for his anti-semitic remarks/generalizations that he made back in 1991... I have a strong inclination that I won't ever hear it.

    November 27, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. RICH,NY

    IT IS TIME THAT THE AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY TAKE RESPONSEBILITY FOR OUR OWN PLIGHT IN THIS COUNTRY RACE IS NOT THE PROBLEM! IGNORANCE IS AND A LACK OF EDUCATION! IT IS NOT THE WHITE MAN WHO CAUSE YOUNG BLACK TEENS TO GIVE BIRTH TO CHILDREN THEY CANT TAKE OF NOR ARE THEY THE REASON BEHIND BLACK DEAD BEAT DADS AND FATHER LESS CHILDREN IN THIS COUNTRY! BARACK OBAMA IS RIGHT EDUCATION IS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM AS WELL AS THE RACE RELATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY! WE ALL BREATHE AIR AND NEED TO DRINK WATER AND EAT HEATHLY FOOD TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD! IT DOESNT MATTER IF YOU ARE BLACK WHITE BROWN YELLOW RED! I BELIEVE BARACK OBAMA HAS THE SKILL AND INTELLIGENCE TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE AND UNITE THIS COUNTRY AS ONE!

    November 27, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Ted, Chicago, IL

    Of course the Democratic candidates are generally ignoring the black voters. Why bother courting a constituency that will vote for the winner, whoever it is. The effort is to pull in swing voters. Edwards is using the black vote as a strategy but will quickly ignore them if he is nominated. Then the goal will be to pull in the general population. What need is there to kowtow to a group which will deliver a 90% vote.

    November 27, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Mike, Atlanta, GA

    There he goes again... Jesse is missing the campaign trail but nobody's campaign is missing him. He's old news before print deadline.

    November 27, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Please stop giving this man a forum.

    Posted By Ellis, NY, NY : November 27, 2007 10:28 am

    After they stop giving a forum to Pat Robertson and James Dobson – two of the sorriest excuses for human beings of all time.

    November 27, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Michael Torrance, CA

    How would you like the candidates to address poverty? Everything from affirmative action to just plain handout for blacks in America? Poverty is not just a black issue; it affects blacks, whites, latinos and every other race. Instead of demanding the government fix all of this issue, how about trying to work hard, get educated and help yourself.

    November 27, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Jack, Houston

    Why does CNN give this guy any credence?

    November 27, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Jesse:

    Get over it. The "plight" of the African American in this country is no different that that of the white man, the yellow man or the red man. You are always crying about division in this country, but you seem to seperate yourself, using these created titles such as "African American". Were you born in the USA? Were you parents born here? Unless you are a naturalized citizen that has come here from Africa, I believe that you are just a plain old American. If that is an insult to you...one of your freedoms is the ability to leave! If being a plain old American is an insult, I'm sorry you feel that way. I don't believe that candidates should address specific groups of people because that, to me, is discrimination. They need to have the interest of the "American People" as a whole in mind.

    Oh...by the way...you made such a big "to-do" about the Duke Players, and guess what! It was the "African-American" woman that lied...now, I don't see you on TV apologizing to these innocent white men! I can guarantee you that if the tables were turned, and someone that was white was all over TV accusing a black person of a crime, and it turned out that the black person was innocent, you would have your face ALL OVER THE PLACE demanding a public apology....well Jessee, We're waiting!!!!!

    GET OVER IT!!!!!

    November 27, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Daniel, NY

    Obama at least gets some good news from the latest general election poll that has him leading Republicans (though he is tied with Giuliani), even crushing some of them! Link.

    November 27, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Rob

    Jesse I'm black and a Dem who grew up in a poor neighborhood! Jesse please SHUT UP! I am also a strong Obama supporter! He needs to dump you! You are not helping blacks by putting down someone who can build us up mentally. WE ARE TIRED OF THE VICTIM CRAP! Jesse GO AWAY! PLEASE! CNN Please stop it and bury this nonsense! WE all know CNN hates Obama! WE are not stupid!

    November 27, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Politically Incorrect

    Give me a break. It's about time the candidates start looking at the whole picture and not be swayed by the Jesse Jackson and Al Sharptons of the world, who do not have the interests of our entire country in their minds.
    Take a look around–we have big problems to deal with. Maybe people should start taking responsibility for their lives and stop looking for handouts.

    November 27, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Exactly what was accomplished in the Jena march? The "plight" of African Americans needs to start in the home and there wouldn't be Jena marchs. We as African Americans must stop blaming others for our problems. We must learn when, where and how to fight our battles. Our black churches are financially strong enough to make significant contributions for change in our communities. If we can build churches, why can't we build our communities; many that don't have grocery stores but a church on every corner. Our pastors and pastors families live in mansions, drive rolls royces, own airplanes and travel the world $$$$. Criticizing democratic candidates is not the answer.

    November 27, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. George, NY

    Why doesn't he endorse Edwards if he thinks Edwards is the only Democratic candidate speaking for the Black population? Why is he endorsing Obama? This guy makes no since! It's kind of funny actually.

    But in all seriousness everyone who posted have made some good points. That this guy needs to go away, that this guy segregates this country by using the microphone that CNN should not give him, that this guy is in need of getting so much attention and is jealous because we now have other black leaders such as Obama who does not reflect Jackson's ideologies.

    And yes, I, too am still waiting for the apologies to the Duke students that Jackson and Sharpton so ruthlessly hurt their reputations and honestly could have potentially forced those kids in prison for something they did not do. Both these "Reverends" spit out hate evertime they speak.

    November 27, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. Dominic, Atlanta, GA

    Jesse Jackson needs to realize that with accusations such as this he no longer can claim status as a respected voice of mediation between the African-American community and public officials. Bill Clinton famously denounced certain fringe African-American "activists" in '92 and it proved to be a brilliant move. Hopefully, the Democratic nominee (Go Barack!) will do the same. Mr. Jackson is in effect harming the African-American community by making outrageous claims such as this. Leave this nonsense to Kanye West.

    November 27, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Stefan Gaithersburg, MD

    When he's he going to protest an injustice done to a white or Hispanic person? Do injustices only happen to black people?

    November 27, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Jay, St. Louis, MO

    A big reason may be that there are not large populations of African Americans in Iowa or New Hampshire, which are the only states on the candidates' minds right now.

    November 27, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. Joshuua Maye, Washington, DC

    As much as I respect Rev. Jesse Jackson, the African American community needs to start caring about ourselves before we ask others.

    The President is not the President of the minority but the President of America. Yes, the President should not ignore the middle class and low income but until we fight back as a community but more importantly as citizens, we will continue to "ignored".

    November 27, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Roberta, Sarasota FL

    So Jesse can accuse Obama of "acting white" and no one raises an eyebrow. If anyone ever accused a white of "acting black," Jesse and Al would be out there fanning the flames to start riots, demanding that person's job and a punitive payment. The two of them ought to be ignored. No two were more irrelevant than Jesse and Al. They are a good example of how and why racism remains today.

    November 27, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Jo Florence Colorado

    Get over Black issues it ets old hearing about people complainging about people treating Blacks badly.

    November 27, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. Caren

    Jackson is focusing his anger in the wrong direction. If you have a African American within striking range of becoming the Presidential candidate & this is still an issue that speaks more to the fault of Obama than anyone else. He needs to hold Obama's feet to the fire. Blacks sgould look at that before they vote.

    November 27, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. Andy , Austin, Tx

    When will people stop listening to the likes of Jesse Jackson. He and others like him (both Black and White) only make statements to keep themselves in the limelight. Whether it be Al Sharpton/Al Sharpton or Ann Colter/Bill Oreilly it is the same. They capitalize the moment and try to use it to put money in their pockets
    When will we stop being divide and be ONE Country. It is the only way to survive

    November 27, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. DJ Gaithersburg, MD

    so john edwards is acting black? Is that what Rev. Jessie is saying? MLK must be turning in his grave as every principle he held dear is twisted and exploited by someone from his inner circle. To quote Dr King, " Judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin"

    November 27, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Diogenes, Kansas City, MO

    I mean, what, exactly, is the government supposed to DO? How can the government (or the current candidates) make them stop shooting each other, and stop robbing from everyone, and stop fathering kids indiscriminately with no means or intention of supporting or "parenting" them, and start saving money instead of blowing it on frivolous bling, and start focusing on education, and start abandoning the pervasively misogynistic, self-destructive, and violence-prone subculture?

    November 27, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Jimmy Austin Tx

    He is at it again, When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, Louisiana they came by bus why didn't he have those same buses show up during Katrina...he & Al hurts this country...I guess if you have a kid out of wed lock it helps to have money like Jesse....Thanks Jimmy Austin tx

    November 27, 2007 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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