Rev. Jesse Jackson, spouse Jacqueline speak state of race and civil rights in America

GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – One of the greatest civil rights activists of our time began his leadership role in the Piedmont Triad at North Carolina A&T State University.

“The student sit-ins that started here in Greensboro created a dynamic that had been in place for far too long,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jackson came to North Carolina A&T that same year when four A&T students started a national movement by sitting at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro. He was the quarterback for the soccer team. Outside the field, he was an activist deeply involved in the civil rights movement.

“It came at a time when A&T was the center of student activism across the country,” he said.

He and his wife Jacqueline met here. They got married and started their family here. Since then, they have fought together for civil rights and racial equality. The university honored her with an honorary doctorate on Mother’s Day. During our time together, she reflected on the day she met famous author James Baldwin on campus.

“I was wondering how you were feeling about the progress of African Americans at the time,” she said. “I was so in love when he said the first thing we should understand is that we shouldn’t be so excited about our performance because we’ve been working hard for something owed us and whatever we were earned in our activism, we owed it anyway. So we shouldn’t be so excited, we should realize that we are part of humanity and the human family. And I’ve never forgotten that. “

Rev. Jackson says there is a political explosion pointing to the black mayors of Charlotte, Houston, Dallas and Montgomery, Alabama. But he says it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

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“Today we see a backlash on our progress,” he said. “We had the most votes ever. The politics of our time is now an attempt to take back everything, fight and resist … fight for justice and jobs for all. “

Ms. Jackson says our country’s reckoning with race was predictable.

“We keep bringing problems to bed and at some point you have to spray or open your mattress or get a new mattress. And I feel like in our society today we have reached this apex, this apex, and we are trying to decide whether America and democracy will live, ”she said.

Rev. Jackson says we must keep fighting the racism that divides us.

“We are fighting this disease everywhere and have come to institutionalize it as if it were natural. It’s immoral and wrong and it’s hurtful, ”he said.

Even so, they see progress everywhere.

“Isn’t there always a light at the end of the tunnel?” she asked him during our conversation.

“Well, make sure the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train coming this way, it’s the sunshine,” he replied.

He hopes it will keep getting better, especially for the blacks.

“I am overwhelmed with hope because we have the right to vote and the will to fight back. We have more with less. Today we have skills, more skills. We can not do anything. “

And he believes America’s future is bright.

“Our future must be built on hope, not despair … looking ahead, not looking back,” he said.

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