Jesse Jackson's 'Post-Racial' Legacy for the Democratic Party

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 11, 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Jesse Jackson's 'Post-Racial' Legacy for the Democratic Party


I first heard the Rev. Jesse Jackson speak in a Chicago hotel ballroom in July 1968, shortly after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's assassination and just three months after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King.

We were an audience of largely white college students fresh from the anti-Vietnam War presidential campaigns of Sen. Eugene McCarthy and Mr. Kennedy. By then we all knew that Mr. Jackson had been in the parking lot talking to Mr. King when the horrible shots rang out and Mr. King fell, mortally wounded.

The young reverend could have been angry, bitter, focused on America's shameful historic stain of racism and bigotry for about 200 years.

But he did not do that. He spoke for an hour, without notes, about the need for healing, for blacks and whites to work together on common issues. He talked eloquently about economic injustice that linked people of all colors in the America of the 1960s.

We gave him a standing ovation that wouldn't end. And I thought: This is a truly great leader, a truly great man, a truly inspiring man. And I haven't changed my mind since.

Through the years, wherever there was human suffering or injustice, black or white, poor or middle class, there was Jesse Jackson - on picket lines whenever workers, regardless of their color, needed help to achieve fair collective bargaining; or in Appalachia visiting poor whites living in poverty and hunger, just as Mr. Kennedy did.

Then in the early 1980s, he did what was the unthinkable for an African-American: He ran for president - first in 1984 and again in 1988.

But he did so, not as a black man, but as a traditional Democrat, carrying the banner of Franklin Roosevelt's progressive ideals. He talked about national health care, job creation and better schools for the middle class, as well as the inner city and poor rural whites.

In 1984, he won five primaries and caucuses and 3.5 million votes.

In 1988, he raised more than $17 million and won the caucuses in the almost entirely white states of Vermont and Alaska. Overall, he won 14 primaries and caucuses (including South Carolina, as former President Bill Clinton accurately stated), 7 million votes and 1,218.5 national convention delegates. He ran nationally ahead of Sen. Al Gore, Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. Paul Simon. And when he lost, he campaigned nonstop across the country for the Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.

Perhaps most important, from 1984 to 1988, he and his organization added more than 2 million new voters - the majority of them African-American. An important result: the 1985 election of L. Douglas Wilder as lieutenant governor of Virginia, the first African-American elected to a statewide office in Virginia's history; and four years later, Mr.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Jesse Jackson's 'Post-Racial' Legacy for the Democratic Party


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?