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“…When our budgets reflect the nation’s commitment to jobs and justice, and peace we’ll keep our eyes on that prize…”

“…I’d rather have a guy calling me a name with no power, than a guy smiling at me that has state’s rights power as the government…”

Reverend Jesse Jackson.

There was a question and answer session with the media at the end of yesterday’s press conference:

….Question: …Dave Helling, Kansas City Star.  Uh, Reverend Jackson, you suggested the tea party resolution was a diversion. What did you mean by that? And maybe some of the other members, uh, could, uh, address today’s pushback, Sarah Palin and others that issued statements calling it divisive, inappropriate, that type of thing, sad. Could you talk just a little bit about the tea party resolution?…

(left to right) Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, NAACP National Board Member Clayola Brow, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP Vice President for Communications Leila McDowell.

Reverend Jesse Jackson: My point is the agenda we must address is put America back to work, whether you’re in rural Alabama, whether you’re in Appalachia. Put America back to work.  The economy collapsed because banks were not overseen and to their own greed drove us into a hole. They bailed the banks out without linking it to lending and to saving our homes. That’s the focus. People in West Virginia were killed in a coal mine because workplace laws were not enforced, workplace safety. We have this crisis in the Gulf of Mexico because the environmental protection laws are not honored and mining minerals company got colluded with BP and created this crisis. So while they media has a certain sensational taste for arguing, uh, about other groups our focus is put America back to work. And there’s a sense in which our, we are bailing out, with a plan, Afghanistan, bailing out with a plan, Iraq, bailing out the banks, comprehensive immigration reform. Urban America, unemployment among blacks around twenty-seven to thirty-five percent, um, three times beyond the national average. That’s a state of emergency. We want that emergency addressed. And, uh, we used to sing a song in the South. And there were different groups arguing against our case – Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on – we’ll focus on that prize in, in that, in that room in that big tent, all Americans.

Question: Uh, Reverend Sharpton, could you talk a little bit about the push back and whether you think it’s a diversion to talk about the tea party?

Reverend Al Sharpton: I was in, uh, Alabama night before last and one of the ministers hosting me showed me the court house of George Wallace. The issue in the fifties and sixties was not that George Wallace may or may not have been a racist, the issue was he that he was the governor and could stand in the school house door as governor and stop people from going to jail. The media wants to concentrate on our saying there are elements in the tea party this is racist rather than saying the philosophy of the tea party is anti civil rights, ’cause they’re promoting pro state’s rights on immigration, pro state’s rights across the board which will turn back the clock of civil rights. So, you got part of the sermon without the text. The context is the tea party as a political philosophy is to reverse what civil rights did and that is say the federal government must protect people, whether it’s in Arizona on immigration, or South Carolina on civil rights. And I don’t think Miss Palin or anyone else can deny that they are supporting states to supersede the federal government in these areas. That is the context that, uh, President Jealous and others said, yes, there are elements in there that’s racist, but if you pull down the race signs, and you still want to return to statehood type of governmental operation you will have reversed what King and Wilkins and them did. So, I think the emphasis, the media likes to get into who called the name. I’d rather have a guy calling me a name with no power, than a guy smiling at me that has state’s rights power as the government. That’s what this is about. And that’s why we’ve called for these gatherings.

Question: But how [crosstalk] do we get to fo…

Leila McDowell, Vice President for Communications for the NAACP: We can, what’s, excuse me, we can take one more question. Go ahead.

Question: Eric Wesson, The Call newspaper. How do you get the focus back now away from the tea party resolution back on jobs [crosstalk] and the things that people are [inaudible].

Reverend Al Sharpton: Easy. You all need to ask them to deny or admit whether they’re for state’s rights and breaking down where labor laws, work to right laws in states, immigration, civil rights, all of that. Since you all got it out there. It’s like getting center stage. You all got it the show set, now tell ’em, sing. Sing on whether or not they agree on state’s rights. You all have limited the debate on whether they called us a name, rather than trying to change the Kingian form of government. So I don’t want you to get off the tea party, I want you to make them answer the right question. I don’t care if they like me.  What I care is they try to change the power equation that’s going to protect us. And that’s what Ben Jealous and all of us said.

Question: Ben, Ben could you talk to us about that a little bit? [crosstalk]

Leila McDowell: Um, okay, I’m sorry [crosstalk] we have other reporters and we have to, after Reverend Jackson we have to end it. I’m so sorry.

Reverend Jesse Jackson: What I want to focus on, there are fifty million Americans that can’t get three meals a day. Forty million Americans are in poverty. Twenty million have no job. We cannot re-fund unemployment compensation, but we’re gonna fund a war with no end in sight. And all across America we’re closing schools and building jails. We focus on racing to the top but we need prenatal care, Head Start, and daycare, bottom up, so not to have jail kind of welfare on the back end. So on August twenty-eighth we, around, will be marching in Washington and Detroit and unemployment offices focusing on jobs and justice and peace. Jobs and justice and peace. When our budgets reflect the nation’s commitment to jobs and justice, and peace we’ll keep our eyes on that prize. And come October second we’ll be there in even greater numbers together. Jobs and justice and peace. We will not be diverted nor otherwise distracted by any other messages except put America back to work. We want jobs and justice and peace. Thank you so much.

Leila McDowell: And we’ll have President Jealous. We’re gonna have President Jealous give the last words.

Benjamin Todd Jealous: The, um, we, we considered seventy, approximately seventy-five resolutions at this convention. There’s only one that the media’s focused on. Sixteen of those resolutions were on criminal justice, more than a dozen were on the issue of, of education.  I gave a forty-two page speech, half of one page addressed the tea party. That’s all anybody’s talk
ed about. We need the media to pay attention to the issues that are most important to this country. It’s fine if you want to pay, focus on one half of one page of a forty-two page speech. But we’d appreciate you focus on at least half the other pages, too. Or, or half of another page. We talked about education, we talked about jobs, we talked about criminal justice. We talked about this march where we have people from hundreds of communities across the country who have been here for days planning for a very big and robust march on Washington to put the focus back on jobs, to make sure that the issue of education is dealt with, to make sure that what Frederick Douglass said about com, uh, about the issue of, of immigration, actually goes into action which is that we base it on human rights principles and not mere expediency. That’s what all of us have been saying.

Thank you and God bless, we’ll see you inside the panel….

Previously:

The 101st NAACP National Convention in Kansas City

NAACP in Kansas City: Benjamin Todd Jealous at the opening press conference

NAACP in Kansas City: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at the opening press conference

NAACP in Kansas City: report on the impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf region

NAACP in Kansas City: Sunday – photos

NAACP in Kansas City: Michelle Obama – photos

NAACP in Kansas City: Representative Sheila Jackson Lee on the tea party and human rights

NAACP in Kansas City: Senator Claire McCaskill (D) – “Now is no time to quit.”

NAACP in Kansas City: Representative Emanuel Cleaver – “Don’t you forget it!”

NAACP in Kansas City: Wednesday afternoon press conference – photos

NAACP in Kansas City: Rev. Al Sharpton – “There clearly is some racial leaves in their tea bag…”

NAACP in Kansas City: Rev. Jesse Jackson – “We want jobs, justice, and education for all.”

NAACP in Kansas City: Benjamin Todd Jealous – “…we all need a testament of hope…”