Jesse Jackson (3)

Jesse Jackson (3) (1995)
Duration: 00:27:47

See other episodes with similar themes and topics

Themes: Education and Families | Leadership | Urban Challenges | Poverty, Progress, and the Rise of African-American Businesses and Professionals |

Guests: Lois Williams, Deborah Franklin, Jesse Jackson
Host : Darryl Wood [bio]Darryl Wood hosted the show for ten years from 1988 to 1998 under the title American Black Journal. His shows focused on the skills and talents of many of the nation's leading African-American business people.

Click for full biography

Producer : Tony Mottley

Summary: This 1995 program, most of which consists of an interview of Jesse Jackson by host Darryl Wood, is fascinating because of the light it sheds on the political atmosphere of the mid 1990s.

In the interview, Jackson suggests he is seriously considering mounting a challenge to incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton in the 1996 presidential race because of the federal government's lack of attention to urban issues. Clinton had defeated George Bush in 1992 to win the presidency. But, congressional elections of 1994 had thrust House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his conservative Republican agenda to a dominant position in the political debate.

"There is an urban crisis in the country today and none of them are addressing the crisis," Jackson says. "The problems of job development and job training and education for our children and abandoned urban cities, these problems are not being discussed and I'm determined to get them on the agenda."

Jackson raises concerns about the criminal justice system and the rising numbers of African Americans in jail and prison, as well as the privatization of the nation's prison system. He also criticizes Congress' focus on welfare reform instead of job-creation programs that would help people to get off welfare.

In response to a question from Wood, Jackson praises the Million Man March, organized by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam and in which he had participated, as a "phenomenal mobilization" of African American men. But he adds that blacks must move beyond mobilization to directly affect public policy. To do that, African Americans need to build coalitions with other groups concerned with justice and equity.

Blacks, Jackson says, can be a catalyst for change, but "cannot and should not bear that cross alone." Affirmative action programs, food stamps, and most welfare programs, he observes, help white women, Hispanics, Native Americans, the disabled and poor white men as well as blacks.

"Affirmative action is neither black nor minority, it's a majority issue and mostly white," Jackson maintains. "It's not the burden of blacks to fight for a full employment economy when most of the beneficiaries would be white. I mean, blacks and whites must fight together where there is common ground."

Jackson says he is reluctant to run a third time for president. However, he is seriously considering it because he believes that no one in Washington, including President Clinton, is addressing the issues so critical to the nation's urban centers.

"I would rather Clinton honor his campaign priority of an economic stimulus for our cities, not a child to waste, and shift the focus from building jails to job creation and job training," Jackson asserts. "I hope he will veto this unfair crime sentencing bill, the welfare bill and the Medicare bill. But if he will not address the urban policy, he almost forces me to have to challenge him."

The program ends with a short profile of a new program at the Jeffries Housing Project that uses art and cultural enrichment to build the self-esteem of children living in the project.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 5, File 7, Civil Rights-Then and Now – January 20, 1992 – Show # 2312
Box 13, Photographs
Box 16, File 5, Civil Rights - 1980