Jesse Jackson in Burngreave

Jesse Jackson on stage at Ellesmere Green
Jesse Jackson on stage at Ellesmere Green

Story: Camille Daughma

The Reverend Jesse Jackson – America’s foremost black Civil Rights leader – stopped in Burngreave on 26th August 2007. The modest gathering at Ellesmere Green gave him a warm welcome as Rev. Jackson called all the children to stand with him on the platform. He affirmed that the children were the future and that self-belief was the key to a brighter tomorrow.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson earlier spoke to a standing-room only audience at the Cathedral – part of the “Equanomics” tour to promote economic justice in the 200th year since the trade in slaves was abolished in Britain. Commencing the presentation were slides of slaves who had visions bigger than their situation. They did not let their oppressors spoil their optimism; this optimism brought about the beginning of change.

Jesse Jackson speaks
Jesse Jackson speaks

His address centred around economic equality amongst the black and ethnic minority communities. He reminded us how it all started…

“The movement to abolition started when the first black man said, ‘I’m not going on that boat’.”

And the ultimate goal…

“We are here, and free, today because of those who struggled and died for us. Today we are all free but not equal. The goal of the struggle was never freedom but equality. Freedom was a prerequisite to gaining equality.”

He went on to say:

“The legacy of our slave ancestors continues in oppressive practices within the system today.

“We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. We are all part of the same fabric and should use our linkage to each community to turn pain to power.

“Until we realise that shared power plus racial justice equals democracy and believe we can change our situation, nothing will happen. We must have the capacity to be honest with ourselves, and learn from our errors.

“Why do black people do so well at football, basketball, golf, tennis, etc? Because the rules are public and the goals are clear.

“Purchasing power makes us economically viable, which contributes to building the economy. With our purchasing power, we can bring about effective change. We need to realise the power to bring about change lies with us.

“A tokenistic approach to appease legislative requirements about equal opportunity is not the answer. It is not natural to have one side of town where they achieve less, there are less healthcare services, less life expectancy, less jobs, access to less capital, less hope for the future. It’s normal – not natural.

“We owe it to the next generation, as our children are losing the will to fight – we’ve come too far to give up now. We need to invest in our children, take our children to school, meet with the teachers, exchange numbers, turn off the TV 3 or 4 hours a week, take them to church. Be delighted, not surprised, when our children do well. Don’t limit your dreams to the ghetto, but run all the way to the White House.”

He left us with encouraging words…


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The content on this page was added to the website by Lisa Harrison on 2007-09-26 12:54:36.
The content of the page was last modified by Jamie Marriott on 2007-10-01 18:35:12.

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