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The Rev. Jesse Jackson to speak at Rock Hill church Tuesday

The Rev. Jesse Jackson attended the June 26 service honoring the life of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney – one of the nine people killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson attended the June 26 service honoring the life of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney – one of the nine people killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. AP

National civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson will speak Tuesday night at Freedom Temple Ministries in downtown Rock Hill. The free event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Jackson is expected to speak on several issues, including the need for Medicaid expansion, more money for education, mental illness awareness in the African-American community, and recent incidents of police violence disproportionally affecting black people, said state Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill.

King is hosting the event with several other local leaders, including Bishop Herb Crumb, pastor at Freedom Temple; York County Councilman Bump Roddey; and Rock Hill City Councilwoman Ann Williamson.

Freedom Temple is at 215 E. Main St. On-street parking and free parking in the city’s two downtown garages will be available.

Jackson, who was born in Greenville, founded the social justice group the National Rainbow Coalition.

Earlier this year, he visited South Carolina and criticized state leaders’ rejection of expanding Medicaid benefits. He said the move directly impacts the quality of life and life expectancy of poor people who need help paying for healthcare.

Jackson also recently called for South Carolina leaders to remove Benjamin “Pitchfork” Tillman’s name from state university buildings, most prominently at Winthrop University and Clemson University. Others in the state are advocating for removing the name, but state House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, recently said the Legislature will not take up the issue.

Tillman was South Carolina’s governor from 1890 to 1894 and a U.S. senator from 1895 until his death in 1918. A champion of poor, white farmers, he was instrumental in establishing Winthrop College as a teaching school for women and founding Clemson.

But Tillman also was famous for his violent rhetoric against the state’s black population. He supported racist lynch mobs and personally boasted of killing blacks. He was instrumental in adopting the state’s current constitution in 1895, which at the time effectively removed any political power blacks had gained since the Civil War.

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