Reverend Jesse Jackson was the second of three speakers at this afternoon’s press conference at the NAACP National Convention in Kansas City. Reverend Jackson spoke quietly – the ambient noise in the room appeared to drop when he first approached the microphone.
….Reverend Jesse Jackson: Thank you very much, Clayola, to Reverend Sharpton, to, uh, President Jealous.
This week, fifty years ago, July sixteenth, nineteen sixty, along with eight classmates, uh, I was jailed for trying to use a public library. A season of great uprising. January first, nineteen sixty NAACP led a march in Greenville, in the airport, because people could not sit in, uh, open spaces. February first, nineteen sixty, sit-ins took place in Greensboro, North Carolina [inaudible] took a dynamic the like of which we’d never seen before. [inaudible] in April of nineteen sixty. Greenville exploded in July of nineteen sixty. Between sixty and sixty-three there were twenty thousand arrests. In nineteen sixty-three alone there was fifteen thousand arrested. A thousand demonstrations by SCLC and CORE, NAACP marched to pull down the walls of racial segregation.
The March on Washington was a culmination of that phase, collecting those activities around the nation. On that day Jim Foreman could not make it, Floyd McKissock spoke in his place, he was in jail in Louisiana. Fannie Lou Hamer could not make it, she was in jail and beaten by prisoners in Sunflower County, Mississippi. I just left jail [inaudible] of inciting a riot. The season of our global uprising for justice.
Here we come again, forty-seven years later, demanding a national job uprising. Here’ll be a march in Washington , [inaudible] Along with UAW will be marching in Detroit, urging people around, wherever you are, around the nation, have prayer vigils that date, around the nation at unemployment compensation offices. A national jobs and justice day uprising to fulfill the promise of the dream.
UAW had a million five hundred thousand workers ten years ago now it’s down to four hundred thousand. Today it’s USA GM. USA GM, uh, now number one market for Buick is China. So plants are closing, jobs are leaving, drugs and guns are coming and violence is intensifying. So urban America is in a state of emergency. We march, therefore, to address the attacks diminishing life options of people who live in urban and rural America. Our cities are under siege.
Every city we visit [inaudible] transportation. Cutting public transportation, laying off workers, and raising fares. If you’re on welfare you can not own a car, so without public transportation you cannot get to the hospital, or school, or work, or shop, or recreation. Cutting public transportation, in part because in nineteen ninety-eight Gingrich put in a bill that cities above twenty thousand get zero public transportation money, zero public for workers. Ten percent for capital for buses and trucks, but not for workers. So when we’re in Atlanta, Georgia or Memphis, Tennessee, or New York or Chicago – one thing you’ll see in all these cities is public transportation cut, workers laid off, and fares [inaudible]. Cities under siege. Public housing cut. Private housing in record foreclosure. The banks have been bailed out and they rejoice, billions of dollars in bailout, not linked to lending nor to reinvestment. So the banks rejoice. We project four million foreclosures this year. More foreclosures than there will be modifications this year because the bailout was not linked to lending.
Public schools are closing. Teachers are being laid off by the thousands. First class jails and second class schools. Today there is a plan, a plan for comprehensive immigration reform. A plan for Afghanistan, we commit resources, a hundred billion dollars for a hundred Al Qaeda. A plan, don’t ask, don’t tell, for gays. A plan for national reform. But no plan for the investment for urban policy to put America back to work. So, we bail out the predators, the bankers that drove us in this hole. The victims remain on the sideline desperately looking for a job.
Lastly, while there’s a lot of focus today on, so I think it’s a diversion, the issue really is not the tea party it’s the coffee pot. In the coffee pot there’s room for cream and sugar for all of us. It’s about connecting our, connecting our, Alabama and connecting that with, uh, Appalachia. It’s about a plan to put America back to work. Focus on jobs and job training, opening up trade unions, [inaudible] to cut down on the growth and the anxiety and the crime.
I want to thank the NAACP for being that ship across these years, across this century. It’s kept us on the ultimate focus of a big tent America, where all are involved and none are locked out. A change takes place when those at the bottom rise up and have a quest for dignity. Just as we rose up in the thirties demanding workers have the right to organize and, and paid the price. And the sixties rose up and demanded public accommodations for all. Now we demand that there be a job rising. August twenty-eighth let us in the name of the dream march for jobs and justice all the way to ten-two-ten in Washington where we shall again [inaudible] the White House, the Congress, the government must see our quest. We want to work, the dignity of work. We want jobs, justice, and education for all.
Thank you very much.