Use Hope and Imagination as Weapons

[Photo courtesy Cleveland Magazine] Jesse Jackson works as campaign aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Cleveland to help elect Carl Stokes, first Black mayor of large American city.

[Photo courtesy Cleveland Magazine] Jesse Jackson works as campaign aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Cleveland to help elect Carl Stokes, first Black mayor of large American city.

April 4, 1968 – After working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Council’s economic justice project Operation Breadbasket, Jesse Jackson witnessed King’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

1971 – “I Am Somebody,” Sesame Street

In 1971 Jesse Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity), a grassroots organization that aimed to improve economic opportunities for people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. He popularized an updated version of the poem “I Am Somebody,” which was originally written by civil rights activist Rev. William H. Borders, Sr. and used as part of PUSH’s educational programs.

1988 – “Keep Hope Alive,” Democratic National Convention 1988

On the “Rainbow Coalition” platform of uniting and creating policies that benefit people of color, family farmers, workers, women and the LGBT community, Jackson made a second historic run for the Democratic Nomination. With over 6 million votes, he won 11 contests, including Puerto Rico, Louisiana, Michigan and South Carolina.

November 4, 2008 – Reacts to Barack Obama’s election

Over 40 years after he began working as a social justice activist, Jesse Jackson emotionally reacted to the election of President Barack Obama, who broke one of the most resilient racial barriers in American politics.

Jackson continues his work as an advocate for racial and economic justice with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. On a national level, they focus on issues including poverty and hunger, gun violence and home foreclosure. The Coalition encourages you to “Get Informed. Get Inspired. Get Involved.”

How are economic issues affecting you and your community?  What would you like to see done about it? Join our conversation below.

by Robin J. Hayes

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