The Rev. Jesse Jackson has seen lots of changes in his native South, but now he sees many of them under attack by what he calls “the undercurrent of the Confederacy.”
Jackson, 74, spoke with reporters in Charlotte Wednesday on his way to South Carolina where he planned hold a pair of voter registration drives. He also will meet with families of students who were in a Columbia classroom during Monday’s incident involving a school resource officer.
Jackson called the incident in which the officer flipped over a desk with a student in it “totally unacceptable.” The officer is white; the student is black.
“Other students were frozen in fear. They’ll never forget what they saw yesterday,” Jackson said of the incident, now the subject of a civil rights investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors.
Jackson called the incident “a pattern of this behavior that must be addressed in the South.”
The veteran civil rights leader also talked about:
▪ The New South. “It’s under attack. Voting rights is under attack. Access to medical care is under attack and the poor are under attack. Whether they’re living in Appalachia or Mecklenburg County, more people have less access to health care.…
“The New South cannot let the undercurrent of the Confederacy undercut it.… You couldn’t have had the (Carolina) Panthers and the (Atlanta) Falcons behind the Cotton Curtain. You wouldn’t have Honda and Toyota and Boeing and those corporations up and down I-85 behind the Cotton Curtain.”
▪ Moral challenges. “In some sense, the moral challenge of the New South is for white ministers to challenge their people to move from racial fear to co-exist. That is to say, when the Panthers play on Sunday it’s all about blue and white … direction not complexion….
“We should not let small-minded people undermine the New South’s possibilities.”
▪ The Democratic presidential campaign. “I’m delighted that (Sen. Bernie) Sanders and Hillary (Clinton) have a vigorous debate because Bernie’s bringing to the debate issues that otherwise would not get a reasonable platform (like) bank behavior …
“He has appealed to a group of people essentially who have felt left out, alienated. But he has a preoccupation it seems with building the party and not tearing it apart.”