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Jesse Jackson: Rights movement paved way

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who's in town for the DNC, called in to the Observer Sunday morning just before he was scheduled to preach at St. Paul Baptist Church.

The civil rights leader said he wanted to express his thoughts on Charlotte, the New South, and what he called the "toxic environment of polarization" in today's politics. He praised Barack Obama, saying the president has made progress despite taking office with an faltering economy similar to "a bucket without a bottom in it."

The Greenville, S.C., native noted Charlotte's progress over the decades, adding that he vividly recalled the turmoil that surrounded Charlotte teenager Dorothy Counts’ effort to integrate Harding High School in 1957.

He said Charlotte couldn't have evolved into a New South banking center unless Civil Rights leaders first broke down the barriers that kept so many of the region's citizens in second-class status.

"Michael Jordan couldn't have gone to UNC behind the cotton curtain," he said. "The New South's been made possible by the civil rights movement. It is not made by those who block doors. It's made by those who build bridges."

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