Yes Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton and the Black Agenda – It’s Time for a Unified Front. : ThyBlackMan

Friday, June 22, 2018

Yes Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton and the Black Agenda – It’s Time for a Unified Front.

October 2, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Rev. Jesse Jackson pulled off something that the US State Department could not.  The pastor and activist went across the world to Gambia and saved 38 lives in one meeting.   Jackson met with Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, and was able to leave the country with Amadou Janneh and Tamsir Jasseh, two men who’d been incarcerated for treason after protesting against the government.   The rest of the prisoners were also set to be executed, and Rev. Jesse Jackson got the president to reconsider his decision to move forward with the executions.  His achievement was nothing short of phenomenal.

I spoke with Rev. Jesse Jackson this week while appearing on his radio show.  We were all a bit surprised to see that none of the big three media outlets (ABC, NBC, CBS) covered his trip to Gambia.  Surprisingly, only Fox News sent a correspondent to cover the negotiations.  This surprised me, since Fox was the network that seemed determined to destroy Rev. Jesse Jackson back in 2008, when he was caught making problematic remarks about Barack Obama off the air.  Maybe Rev. Jesse Jackson has forgiven Fox News for what they did, but I have not.  At the same time, Rev. Jackson also takes responsibility for his mistake and has apologized multiple times.

I asked Rev. Jesse Jackson how he was able to go to Gambia and do something that the state department had been unable to do.  Rev. Jesse Jackson mentioned that the civil rights movement had achieved a type of moral  authority around the world that the US government does not possess.  The model that African Americans used to obtain our rights within the United States has inspired the world, earning respect from leaders who appreciate what we’ve accomplished.

“I can have meetings with people who won’t talk to anybody else,” he said. “Our opinion matters in the world in a way that the government’s opinion does not.”

With regard to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s achievement in Gambia, it is important that we support all black public figures who are seeking to make progress for people of color, even if they are not being invited to the White House.  Part of the reason that such little progress has been made in the black community since the advent of the Obama presidency is that the powers that be have made people choose between those who are passively loyal to Obama and those who are loyal to black American issues.  This should not be a decision that we are forced to make, for we are not betraying Barack Obama by asking him to address African American issues.

I’ve spent a great deal of time around both Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton over the last four years, and both of them have been strong supporters and defenders of the president.  The primary difference between the two is that Rev.  Al Sharpton is taking Obama’s agenda to black people and Rev. Jesse Jackson is taking the agenda of black people to the president.   While some say that the black community has not been clear on what it would like President Obama to do, selective listening often leads to a set of conclusions that are patently false.

Rev. Jesse Jackson has been very consistent in asking the Obama Administration to address poverty, inequality and violence as part of the Democratic Party platform.  Poverty is as bad as its been since Dr. King was alive, economic and educational inequality still limit opportunities for our children and violence is killing our kids every day.  I would personally add the mass incarceration epidemic to the mix, to argue that the black agenda has been presented loud and clear.

Given that a black agenda has been long presented to the White House, the primary question is “Which leadership is the Obama Administration listening to?”

Are they listening to black leaders who come to White House functions and fight for gay marriage, the Dream Act and other matters that have been handed down by the Obama Administration?  Or are they listening to the leaders who have been consistently beating the drum on poverty, inequality, violence and mass incarceration?  I argue that while the Obama Administration certainly has the right to have ideas of its own, we can no longer have black people wasting their votes by supporting an administration that uses this political capital to go fight for someone else.  It is important to make it abundantly clear that there IS INDEED a black agenda, and that this agenda is just as important as anyone else’s.

As we move forward to what is expected to be a second term for President Barack Obama, I remain hopeful that the president will understand the importance of sitting down with a multitude of African American leaders, and not just the ones with whom he feels most comfortable.   Rev. Al Sharpton has been a great support mechanism for the administration, but meetings with Obama must also include Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. Wilmer Leon, Dr. Ron Walters, Michelle Alexander, and perhaps even his old pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  Meetings should include others who are in a position to intelligently discuss poverty, inequality, violence and mass incarceration in ways that are both understanding of presidential limitations, but substantive enough to encourage the White House to make these matters a priority.

We can’t continue to allow ourselves to be bamboozled.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit


10 Responses to “Yes Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton and the Black Agenda – It’s Time for a Unified Front.”
  1. Kevin Chambers says:

    I am white, let me say that first so that if you wish, you may stop reading right now. If you are still with me let me say that after our house burned down and my father began his drinking we had to move out Chicago’s south side Canaryville neighborhood. I was three years old at that time. For the remainder of my childhood we lived in black neighborhoods. It was a self imposed poverty as my father continued to drink and my parents continued to have children.I have 10 brothers and sisters. We survived on the charity of other including welfare.

    I was 14 before I discovered that most people in this country are white and that the dangers of living in a black neighborhood was not something I had to live with. I had that advantage. Something else I discovered was that the welfare system imposes destructive restrictions on family structure. My father was afraid of earning too much or the welfare would be taken away to soon and we could not have nice things because the welfare agent would ask how we could afford such things. They were very suspicious and threatening.

    My parents divorced ad my father disappeared. My mother became a Chicago public school teacher and was able to afford to move to the north side were her children were safe and she got off welfare. Welfare can become a trap and the breakup of the family is a disaster. My father was weak and though we are white and had that advantage,his behavior almost doomed us to poverty. Dr.Thomas Sowell is a brilliant economist who writes about his life growing up in Harlem in the 1930s and 40. I was amazed to read how similar life was in that neighborhood to all the nice places I have lived since growing up.

    I believe the white sponsored War on Poverty is responsible for the worst kind of racism ever devised. To tell a people that their are helpless and in need of outside guidance in crippling. The Black community must come together and resist the handouts that weaken you. Stand together and depend on and help the community. A great strength of many communities has always been solidarity. German, Italian, Polish, Chinese, Irish and other ethnic neighborhoods are sources of strength and safe harbor for their members from which they may seek acceptance in the larger world with a measure of security at their backs.

    Racism has come to be seen by the larger population as something hateful and unacceptable. Forced behavior such as imposed integration is also unacceptable and will not work. Integration works slowly and is happening in many Chicago neighborhoods but nothing can replace a stable home and community. I thank God for my mother’s strength and I know nothing is more important than family. Don’t allow Government interference to continue it’s misguided attempts at assistance which has proven so destructive. Demand change. It’s your government, they work for you.

  2. theres a growing disregard disrespect for the president, lazy arab so
    many odd names , is to show that racist ideas is here to stay, some of
    own people likes the term, he lazy not bright, american, black education
    don,t mean anything some white folks.

  3. Leona says:

    Tell me why the young black teens in Chester Pa. had to beat up a mentally challenge white woman and put it on you-tube? And why 4 black teens of Philadelphia beat to white men up in-side a Path-Mark? Also,2 black men beat and tortured a 75yr old white woman of Huntington Pa.
    Is this because they can’t find no jobs or the way the black women raises their children by always screaming and hitting?

  4. jdgwisd says:

    Dr. Watkins:

    While I most certainly agree with your comments on holding the Obama Administration accountable as it relates to the needs of a segment of African America, I wonder when we are going to hold our own social,spiritual,and economic instiutions responsible? I believe in the James Brown message of black empowerment: “I dont want nobody to give me nuthin, open up the door, I can get it ma self.” I’m concerned that we have made a cottage industry of asking( a government) who has never been really all that interested in helping blacks in America be sucessful. Let us face our own problems with greed,poverty,sexual immaturity and immorality,spititual impotence, and political irresponsibility instead of asking a president to help us. BTW, like it or not, he is not really counting on our vote to get reelected. If you have paid any attention to what is going on politically, you fully know who Mr. Obama is counting on. And if we keep looking for a “magic negro” for help with OUR problems, we are fools indeed.

  5. hoodgirl says:

    This encompasses Jessie’s body of work. Jessie warned that Obama was talking down to blacks and got ostracized. Check out Obama’s Utube stoking the flames of racial division by telling his black audience that the federal government does not care about them while intentionally lying to them about the funds allocated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    Obama has been in office almost four years and it appears that he does not care about them or the poor because his platform consists of Same-Sex Marriage where Obama compares Same-Sex Marriage to Slavery and Jim Crow laws which is a direct slap in the face to African Americans.

    To think that Obama who does not have a history of helping blacks nor the poor is going to suddenly help them from the oval office is ludicrous. However, while Mainstreet is hurting Wallstreet “Dow Jones, S&P 500, Nasdaq” is booming under President Obama.

  6. sups says:

    Dear Dr. Watkins;
    Thank you for this insight. Firstly, it was a remarkable accomplishment for Rev Jackson to secure the prisoners’ release. I agree that in his position as a civic leader as opposed to an elected one, he is granted access in situations that would be politically impossible for an official visitor.
    I’m sure the 38 and their families are as grateful for his efforts, but everyone who enjoys the blessing of freedom owes thanks to him for demonstrating the tenet that liberty for all is worth the effort. I think it is a mistake for a civic leader such as he, to give up his ‘moral high ground’ to be sullied in a run for office.
    That said, the one thought that seems out of place is your ambivalence towards Fox News. As someone generally in Fox’ demo but not so ideological, I would like to share my perspective. That you mention it at all and refer to Rev Jackson’s “problematic remarks” underscores your sincerity. But I think your ire is misplaced, after all, they were the only ones who showed up and I would not for the link on Fox’s site. Further, that you blame Fox “for what they did,” is also misplaced. History repeatedly teaches us that to be sitting on a set in front of cameras and think you’re in a private conversation is willful ignorance. For me, I actually added some admiration for the Rev when I heard that, because it showed that the “black community” might not be on permanent loan to the Dems. I believe in political debate and compromise as the course to real solutions and have long felt that if black voters (for example) showed they could be moved or at least weren’t monolithic, then they improve the potential for having specific remedies for their communities addressed. Even as someone rated ‘center-left’ I am loathe to vote for the Dems because I see them as too reckless, short-sighted, cynical and craven. The label ‘compassionate conservative’ was a call to moderates to join in coalition with the GOP that started to bear fruit and though they seem like grumpy old men, they’re mostly ‘classic conservative’ and just want govt to stop pushing everyone around. I was surprised to realize how little if any mention there was of ‘the poor’ or ‘poverty’ at the DNC. It was all about (upper) middle class or immigration issues. I live in a metro center with a thorough ethnic mix and the same old problems still exist here.

  7. Until we as a people come together to solve the problems in our community, rather then waiting for the government to do what they can’t do for the general population, we will always be shouting for the crumbs we get from them, no matter who’s in office. But united, we can build a strong foundation to stand and build on, that will give us the power we need to forcefully with money, lobby for what we want.

    Right now we have no power because we have always voted for the lesser of the evils, in order to beg for the crumbs we get. You can’t come from a position of power when you give everything you have to help people outside your community become wealthy and happy, while your community continues to suffer. The bottom line is how are we expected to get the resources we need, when we don’t even utilize the resources we already have in our community?

    Black Unity means financial independence and happiness

  8. Patsy says:

    I always knew that it is hard for Black men to make it but I heard a very disturbing story this week. I have been informed that there are Black prison guards who have been put behind bars with the prisoners for a few hours!!! They could have been raped… This is a method employed by the rednecks to show them this is where they belong, I mean in a cage and that they are not allowed to work… This is disgusting!!! The situation is worse than I thought.

  9. You loss me at the part where it was the government’t responsibility to alleviate violence, poverty, inequality and mass incarceration in the black community. Makes it seem like we are too weak to do it ourselves.

  10. Nicholas says:

    Seems like Dr. Watkins for got to add Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, to his list of Black Americans who are in a position to intelligently discuss poverty, inequality, violence and mass incarceration in ways that are both understanding of presidential limitations.

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