Jesse Jackson (1)

Jesse Jackson (1) (1986)
Duration: 00:28:47

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Themes: Education and Families | Leadership | Urban Challenges |

Guests: Jesse Jackson
Host : Ed Gordon
Producer : Ed Gordon, Carol Gibson

Summary: A Baptist minister, Jesse Jackson spent decades as a civil rights and community activist before a pair of campaigns for the presidency made him a prominent political figure. In this 1986 program, Jackson appears primarily in the role of minister and community activist as he and host Ed Gordon discuss the problems facing black youth in America. (A second program with Jackson, to be aired the following week, would address the situation in South Africa.)

According to Jackson, it is important to maintain proper perspective in dealing with youth problems. It must be recognized and honored that large numbers of black youth, he says, are not involved in drugs and violent behavior. However, for those who are getting involved in crime and drugs, he maintains, the message from the black community must be clear that such behavior is morally wrong and unacceptable.

"We can't give some social, psychological comfort to that," Jackson says. "That's just morally wrong. When we steal from each other or when we rob old people going to the grocery stores and take from them their precious resources, that's just morally wrong. The law must not be tolerant of people who think that crime does pay."

Society needs to reaffirm the positive values of education and personal responsibility, Jackson argues. Those working for change must recognize the impact of mass media. By the time they are 18 years old, American children will have viewed 18,000 hours of television and have witnessed a half million murders in that programming.

"We must know if there was a song on the air with some message about the Klan and the rope we would say, 'No!' it violates our principles," Jackson says. "But if it's about the dope, it's like, 'It's cool.' We've never lost as many lives through the rope as we have through dope. And so many of our mass messengers have made death through dope like, 'cool.' Well, it ain't like, 'cool,' it's like 'wrong.'"

Jackson suggests the key to dealing with the problems facing black youth is to help them raise their sights beyond the ghetto and give them the tools the need to be effective and successful in society. "So often we leave our youth only with the weapon . . . and not teach them how to use their vote," he says. "We must teach them that power is in their minds, in their character, in their vote and in their dollar. We must teach them how to use these weapons."

This program addresses the problems facing African American youth in the mid 1980s and the efforts being made to address those problems. It also illuminates the personality and the communication style of a charismatic black leader.

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