Jackson makes push for economic success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 8, 2002

One could faintly recognize a slight tear, at first, floating down Rev. Jesse Jackson’s face as he returned to Selma to speak at the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, on Sunday.

Jackson, a famed civil rights activist, and founder of the National Rainbow Coalition, a national social justice organization, gave a fiery speech, rousing all members of the audience, in a city where he once helped Dr. Martin Luther King in the push for Voting Rights for all African Americans.

Before beginning his speech, Jackson praised many Selmians, including Selma Mayor James Perkins, Selma’s first African American mayor, civil rights activist and attorney Rose Sanders, and the former minister of the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, Rev. T. H. Lewis.

Jackson began his speech by saying many barriers had been overcome for all minorities, including African Americans, but there was still much more to accomplish.

“If I were to write a Freedom Symphony it would have four movements,” said Jackson. “The first would be an end to legalized slavery… the second would be an end to legal segregation… the third would be obtaining the right to vote… but the fourth [which we have yet to accomplish] would be access to capital, industry and technology…You can now vote, but you may starve.”

Jackson also spoke, at length, about what he felt was morally right versus what was legally right.

“Rosa Parks was wrong legally, but right morally,” said Jackson, referring to Parks, a famed Civil Rights activist, who refused to give up her seat on a bus in 1955, which sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

However, he said Enron’s manipulation of its employees 401 K plans was also right legally, but wrong morally. Enron, a billion dollar technology company, recently declared bankruptcy, leading many to speculate that several executives at the company may have been involved in corrupt business practices.

Jackson also asked his audience, which filled the entire church, to remember those who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 during Bloody Sunday, a day where Alabama State Troopers sprayed Voting Right’s marchers with hoses as they tried to march across the bridge.

“No lawyers, Ph.D.’s, teachers, artists….marched across that bridge,” said Jackson. “The people who marched across that bridge were humble, faceless martyrs.”

Finally, Jackson, using sports as an example, said all Americans must be included on an equal playing field. “We didn’t know how good baseball could be until everyone could play,” said Jackson. “Everyone must be included.”