What the civil rights movement teaches us about this moment | Ft. Jesse Jackson

October 4, 2020

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The name Jesse Jackson evokes a range of reactions in the United States of America, but his cultural impact is undeniable. Over his decades in the public eye, his words and actions have made an indelible impression on the national consciousness. From controversial spiritual leader to one-time presidential candidate, the iconoclast´s unvarnished perspective on these volatile moments in history is the focus of today´s compelling conversation.

2:07 The Longest Struggle

After spearheading the fight for equality for decades, the Reverend Jesse Jackson has practically become synonymous with race relations in America. Commonly viewed as an incendiary presence, the roots of his passion have been laid bare in the wake of ongoing nationwide demonstrations. Detailing his long view of the fight for equality, he opens with a relevant quote from Dr. King: ¨the arc of the Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.¨

3:46 Pouring Concrete

One of the most visible characteristics of the modern BLM movement is its lack of centralized leadership. Jackson sees this as a mark of a work in progress, pointing to the natural formation of hierarchies in practically any organization. Leaders naturally emerge with time. He also emphasizes the importance of collective engagement within movements designed the challenge existing systems. A sustainable approach is paramount, and the long-term viability of a leaderless civil rights movement is yet to be seen.

9:48 Exploiting the Moment
There can be little doubt that the urgency of today´s issues have created a moment ripe for radical change. The Reverend enthusiastically advocates for optimizing our opportunities to make a mark on the future: exploiting the moment. As the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s shows, the will of the people decides the shape of society. This perspective follows a fundamental tenet of Political Science: ¨Never let a good crisis go to waste.¨

11:04 Debunking Distractions

One of the more controversial elements of the ongoing demonstrations in cities across the US is the collateral damage that can result. Detractors often use damage to property to delegitimize these forms of protest. For these reasons, agents provocateur have repeatedly attempted to hijack these social justice movements by doing undue damage to residential property. Jackson goes into detail on the history of protest sabotage, as well as the demographics that make painting these demonstrations with a broad brush problematic.

14:53 More On Leadership

The Reverend sharply criticizes national leadership, specifically the President, for its role in inciting violence. Pointing to the administration´s unsatisfactory response to the murder of a police brutality protestor at Charlottesville, he condemns what he sees as passive encouragement of dangerous ideology. Left unchecked, these belief systems can tear society apart at every seam and radicalize otherwise seemingly normal American citizens.

20:21 Beyond Rhetoric

A particularly effective aspect of Jackson´s platform is is ability to influence legislation. His most recent contribution, a bill proposing to redefine racism as a public health crisis, could have far-reaching implications. According to the veteran activist, the time has come for American society to undergo a meticulous self-examination. He believes that reviewing the roots of systemic racism will quickly uncover the myriad structural issues faced by minorities in America. In turn, targeted solutions such as this legislation can be devised.

28:33 A Unique Opportunity

While The Reverend´s approach has had tangible effects for Angelenos, he recognizes that LA is an environment all its own. Los Angeles County has one of the largest public service workforces of any local municipality, as well as one of the nation´s largest budgets. For Jackson, this puts the leadership of Los Angeles in a singular position to redirect resources to its most disadvantaged residents. By addressing inequalities in areas such as housing, policing, and education, LA can build a model that can be replicated elsewhere.

48:16 Evolution of the Democratic Party
Jesse Jackson famously ran for President as an independent on multiple occasions, capturing a diverse coalition numbering over 6 million in 1988. At the time he was considered a radical for his stances on matters such as healthcare and criminal justice. Since then, the party has moved left appreciably. Here, the former candidate speaks on seeing his passionately held ideas pass into the political mainstream in a critical election.

Connect with Jesse Jackson:
Website- https://rainbowpush.org/
Blog- https://rainbowpush.org/blog/
Twitter- https://twitter.com/RevJJackson

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