July 19th, 2009
03:46 PM ET
5 years ago

Jackson: Black leaders want to engage more with Obama

Rev. Jackson said Sunday that African-American leaders want to engage with the president because there is 'unfinished business.'
Rev. Jackson said Sunday that African-American leaders want to engage with the president because there is 'unfinished business.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A longtime civil rights leader called Sunday for the nation’s first African-American president to be more engaged with the black community and for greater government action to address the needs of the poor and unemployed - especially those in the African American community.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said that he and other African-American leaders “want to engage more fully with [Obama] because there is a lot of unfinished business.” While Jackson noted that the president has met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and with some African-American mayors, Jackson said he has yet to sit down with Obama.

Jackson said on CNN’s State of the Union that he was confident, however, “at some point in time, we will meet.”

Jackson also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the African-American community is still plagued by "structural inequality." He noted that progress has been made since he first ran for president 25 years ago in 1984, but he said there is still a need for investment in troubled, inner-city communities and for the government to "play a stronger role to stop the flow of guns" and "revive the ban on assault weapons."

He also called for another stimulus targeted to help the poor and unemployed, saying, "We need a stimulus package that is bottom up."

"Just as there has been a stimulus targeted for the banks to let them recover, and they've recovered to such an extent that they are making a profit again and sending money back to Washington, there must be a targeted stimulus at the base where you have this vast unemployment," Jackson said.

Jackson’s comments came just days after Obama addressed the NAACP on its 100th anniversary.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. James

    The African-American leaders need to be very careful when calling on President Obama to do more for the community. There are a lot of dangers in emphasizing affirmative action too much. When you get a job through affirmative action, chances are that your co-workers will not respect you. After all, you got the job not necessarily on merit but due to gender or color of you skin.

    I'm an African who has been living in this country for close to six years. I currently don't have a job. I've white friends who are also struggling.

    July 19, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. gls

    Reverend Jackson – Face it, you aren't important enough.

    July 19, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. JGB

    Just the title of this alone is wrong! Race is constantly an issue with Jesse Jackson. He is one of the most racist people anywhere. He needs to quit making excuses and encourage blacks to take care of themselves, instead of the constant welfare push. There is NO reason anyone can't work hard to get ahead, it's a choice that they made.

    July 19, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Get Real

    Everyone is unemployed right now. Not just one group.

    July 19, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. Ron L

    As a Black Man in America, I only have one thing to say....
    Ooooh PLEASE give me a break!!
    Yes, President Obama is African-American but he is really sort of busy now trying to keep the entire country from going down the toilet !!
    He has done PLENTY for Black American by simply telling us to get MUCH MORE involved with our children. IF we do that as a people our situation will improve greatly in the next 10 years.
    It is not about money..it is about attitude, drive, devotion, to raise your children. My parents had little money and the six of us knew there was NO EXCUSE to fail in school!! How many parents tell their children that today? Quit looking to the government for help. The opportunities are there it just requires REAL, LONG-TERM effort.

    July 19, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. J. O'Heir

    Maybe the Ptresident, like many others, both Black and White, doesn't consider Jackson a leader.

    July 19, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Dude....he's the president of the frickin USA....EVERY leader wants to engage more with him. As for the African American community...stand in line with all of the rest of us who are under-represented or discriminated against...he's not just YOUR president.

    July 19, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Alaskan

    Jackson needs to just go away! He and his family and friends have packed their saddlebags with the usual influence peddling gold and
    now need to ride off into the sunset. Obama does not NEED NOR WANT the help of the establishment that has run this country into the ground for their own greedy self-interest.

    Jackson is white-collar welfare trash.

    July 19, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Jane

    Jesse must need another 15 minutes of fame.

    July 19, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. Jim

    Crawl back under your rock, jesse; the world doesn't need you!!!

    July 19, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Reverend Jackson, did you notice how you and Reverend Al Sharpton were not called upon by Obama in the general election, or the primary for that matter? There was a reason for that.

    And by the way, sir, when are you and Al going to Durham, NC and apologize to the Duke University Lacrosee program and the three players you excoriated out of school, who turned out to be innocent, in that "scandal" a while back?!?!?!

    Well?????????????????

    July 19, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Susan

    Jackson is a separatist. he feels threatened that his "leadership" will have no significance.

    What happened to his comment which he made while being off the air in Fox News interview.

    July 19, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Unfazed

    Jackson needs to sit down and shut up.

    July 19, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Jesse......

    Obama just doesn't like you....live with it.

    July 19, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. Mr. Jackson.....

    Obama's main interest is his image......not you or the black community.....

    July 19, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Meidy

    And who are you, Rev. Jackson, that you feel you should sit with President Obama? Rev. Jackson & Rev. Sharpton.....community organizers advising the community organizer. Great......looking forward to it. NOT!

    July 19, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    Any time Jackson or that other ACLU preacher get involved, it sets the race issue in this country back 50 years.

    President Obama is the president of ALL, not just your radical fringe group, Jackson. He has a whole country to worry about, not just blacks. DEAL WITH IT and butt out.

    July 19, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Tracy, Syracuse, NY

    I think this is a bad idea.

    Obama should not meet with black leaders until the black leaders can come to some type of understanding amongst themselves. I am African American and feel like Obama and Jackson-Sharpton don't even speak the same "language".

    The black community is plagued with so many ills that must be and can be addressed without Obama. For starters, let's get BET off the air (a complete insult and embarassment to black people...globally). Number two, let's educate our children and tell them that it is not okay to be an athlete or rapper for a career choice. Third, stop celebrating materialism in our community. Why does a single guy need a navigator with rims, or bling around his neck. Lastly, stop celebrating ignorance. When someone in our community does something that is wrong, or immoral...stop cheering them on and gossiping about it. Call the police.

    So Jesse, if you want to sit down and talk to someone...talk to me. I can help you map out a plan to help make progress in our community. Let Obama handle the business of this country that is more pressing than our communal ills.

    July 19, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. w.l. jones

    Time have past and gone take a break.

    July 19, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Shakisha

    Stop the madness! Jesse Jackson gets on my nerves. I don't even have the energy or desire to say anymore. Ugh. I'm just ready for black people to stop demanding of those who become more successful. As long as President Obama's policies aren't negatively affecting African Americans (and other disparaged groups) I'm good. He doesn't have to concentrate only on African Americans.

    July 19, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Fan of Common Sense

    Looks like Barak is not being the puppet that Jesse and Al were hoping.

    July 19, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. Obamaismypresident

    Jesse and others need to just stop. Can you do something else for not just our people but for all people. I am black and I know this is not just a black world. Get over yourself. You are not following Dr. Martin Luther King's dream or President Obama's. You, BET and Tavis Smiley need to stop and look at working together. Did you tell a white man tell Bill Clinton, he wasnt doing enough for white people. Just stop and realize the baby doll is not dirty , and we can all get along if you stop being envious. He just came from doing a magnificant speech at the NAACP thing. Rewind our tears at the inaugaraation. What were you crying for? Joy? Excitement? Act like it. Geez.

    July 19, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. renea

    I agree with Jesse Jackson on some issues when it comes to the Black Community But just because im black does not mean i have an excuse, to not be on top of my game Yes the employement rate among blacks are higher than whites but that dont give me a reason to sit back and not go look for work or least go back to school take up a trade do something positive. I remember when i got laid off from my job i took advantage of the opportunity and went back to school and took up nursing assistant and i Thank GOD i did; i know for some thats not a big thing but to me it is becaus now i work with medicine fulltime and with patients partime. so i work 7 days a wk. im not bragging but i just wanted to say their is opportunity out there for us as a black community if we take advantage of it.

    July 19, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. DawnL,CA

    Jackson, the "structural inequality" is mainly caused by fatherless homes. No stimulus package will help that problem nor will giving jobs to some people who have no incentive to work. The black community needs to take back their children & their streets-no one can do it for you.

    July 19, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Michael, Pensacola, FL

    Part of what he says is true, the needs of the poor, uneducated and a greater interaction in community by the Obama Administration is certainly required. However, there are no "black leaders", just like there are no white leaders for an entire community. The resources and attention can reach African Americans just fine without having to go through Jessie Jackson . . . he doesn't speak for me and he doesnt speak for a lot of blacks. I don't know whether to blame him or blame news organizations who keep running to him for soundbites and opinions about community matters. The black community is made up of hundreds of leaders that accomplish a variety of things and the news needs to start asking everyday working professionals their opinions and stop feeding Rev. Jackson's probably good intentioned delusions.

    July 19, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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