Magazine article New Internationalist

Jesse Jackson

Magazine article New Internationalist

Jesse Jackson

Article excerpt

How has racism changed since you first became an activist?

I was born into segregation in the South and I couldn't borrow library books, or skate on the same ice rink as white people, or vote in national elections. We won that battle. My parents fought in World War Two but they weren't treated as equals, and we won that battle. We are a better nation because of it. We won the battle against apartheid in South Africa. All this gives me hope - but the battle is not over. We still have gross inequalities. Police profiling means that black and Asian people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched. Banks are still profiling and hype up lending fees because of the zip code you live in. We have to fight racism wherever it exists, be it the police, healthcare or in the banks.

You were born to a 16 year-old single mum. In the UK the current government might classify you as part of broken Britain. Did your family ever feel broken?

Yes. But we have to work hard to overcome the brokenness. We all need strong families, and that means we need jobs for our parents to go into and education for our children. Sometimes you need to rely on extended families. I am where I am because I had a grandmother who looked after me, teachers who cared and had high expectations of me - people knew how to bring me up but not teach down to me. It's often said it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a strong and healthy village to raise all children well.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? You have been criticized for being anti-choice.

Define 'feminism'. I respect the rights of women and I advocate for their human rights. Women have the right to self-determination - it's wrong to say I'm against freedom to choose. I wouldn't oppose reductions in the [abortion] time limit or repealing women's rights. It [reproduction] is a choice women must make.

What's your biggest regret? …

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