Rev. Jessie Jackson Speaks at Council 36

Icon of the civil rights movement, the Rev. Jessie Jackson, made an appearance at Council 36 on Sept. 7, where he spent more than an hour talking with AFSCME members and community activists. In the wake of the recent neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville and the White House’s incitement against DACA recipients, Jackson stressed the need for racial convergence and common ground on such progressive issues as fair economic policy, immigration rights, climate change and worker justice.

Although 75 years old, the reverend has not mellowed his fervor to fight the good fight. He relayed how historically, social justice, labor and civil rights groups have been “played off of each other,” due to the white male ruling class’s divide and conquer strategy to retain their position, power and wealth.

American desires and ambitions are more or less the same across all communities, he said: “It’s not black, brown or white. It’s slavery or freedom,” he said. “Sometimes we get confused… There is no future in turning on each other. We are on the same side of history. We are in a common revolution!”

Jackson said there is reason for hope for better days, given the progress that has been made so far. In the 1960s, thanks to the civil rights movement, basic human rights in America would be enforced for the first time.  “Today is the greatest America has ever been.... We have the law, the vote, the right to coalesce and the freedom to march.”  That does not mean the struggle to create a more democratic and fair society is over, of course: “The law doesn’t mean much if you don’t fight to keep it!”