Magazine article The Christian Century

Flawed Leaders

Magazine article The Christian Century

Flawed Leaders

Article excerpt

JESSE JACKSON is a complicated man. He has been right on most issues most of the time, though certainly not all the time. No one is more eloquent on the topic of human rights, and no on more personally committed to the cause of justice for minority and marginalized people. Jackson also has a legendary instinct for publicity: he understands the role the media play in the political arena and he knows well how to use the media. I also know that he goes to places where the media are not present, and is an advocate for people whose cause is not popular and not likely to be so. He is opportunistic, and he can seem almost vainly preening at times. But he is often warm, friendly and open.

My son, a reporter with the Associated Press, was once assigned to cover a Chicago woman's eviction from her home, an event at which Jackson was planning to make a statement. My son had tried to interview Jackson but had been unable to schedule an appointment. After Jackson made his statement, Andy confronted him about his failed effort to interview him. Jackson asked him if he had plans for dinner and on the spot invited Andy to join him for the meal. Andy got his interview and a lot more.

When three U.S. servicemen were being held in Yugoslavia, Jesse Jackson had the audacity to go there and negotiate their release. When someone from the African-American community needed to step up and voice uncomfortable truths about the number of black men fathering and abandoning babies, Jackson did it. …

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