In a recent speech to North Carolina college students, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. stumped for Barack Obama and described members of the Tea Party movement as slavery supporters.
In a speech Friday at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, billed as a get-out-the-vote rally, Jackson drew a difference between the original Boston Tea Party, which he said aimed to “end occupation and wipe out the tea tax,” and the contemporary Tea Party, which he characterized as a group that wants to “overthrow our government, engage in secession, sedition, segregation and slavery.”
Jackson continued that the Tea Party “has lost that war.”
Referencing slavery in America’s past several times, Jackson also warned the students that because of this country’s history they have a responsibility to vote.
“We have struggled for so long with the hypocrisy on paper of being one nation under God… but we couldn’t be one nation half slave and half free,” Jackson said. “We couldn’t be one nation when women did not have the right to vote. We couldn’t be one nation when workers do not have the right of collective bargaining. We could not be one nation when people of a language other than English could not express themselves and be seen as citizens.”
When Jackson took the stage, he started by asking the crowd to repeat after him:
“I am somebody, red and yellow, brown, black and white. We’re all precious in God’s sight. Everybody is somebody. My mind is a pearl. I can do anything in the world if my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it. I know I can achieve it. Stop the violence. Save the children. I can hope. I will hope. I must hope. Keep hope alive. Forward by hope. Not backwards by fear. Keep hope alive.”
Another focus of Rev. Jackson’s speech was the moral authority he said he feels the United States lacks as long as there are barriers between people.
“Separate but unequal” was a term he proffered multiple times in his speech to describe the disparity between blacks and whites and the rich and the poor, saying: “Where there is inclusion, there is growth … at the heart of justice is fairness, even and equal.”
In a speech that sounded similar to one Obama might give, Jackson commented on the high number of black men in prison, the amount of loan debt with which students are saddled, and the necessity for a safety net in Medicare. Jackson said the answer is to “create the world you want to live in.”
Jackson ended his speech by telling students to “honor the legacy and vote.”
Although Jackson was careful not to advise people to vote for Obama outright, those around him were more direct. After finishing his speech, Jackson asked everyone to rise, saying he was going to march with them to an early voting location on the UNC Chapel Hill campus.
Upon exiting the auditorium, attendees were given signs, fans and bumper stickers proclaiming Obama as their candidate. Among the sponsors of Jackson’s visit were The Black Student Movement, the NAACP, Tar Heels for Obama, and the UNC Chapter of Young Democrats.
The one-hundred strong march headed to Ram’s Head Dining Hall, where voter registration and early voting took place. Also present were tables set up by the Orange County Democratic Party and the UNC chapter of Young Democrats, who doled out pizza and soda provided by the Obama for President campaign.
The Orange County Republican Party also had a table where a volunteer handed out sample ballots. One volunteer said he had no idea that Rev. Jackson was going to be on campus that day.
Fix contributor Jessica Kubusch is a student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.