By: Dr. George Onuorah
The summit addressed Minority Procurement, Equity Investment, Board Diversity, and Life after Sports and Technology. While some have come to gain from some of the workshops others have come to felicitate with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, every now and then you will see him posing for photograph with people who are mesmerized by his life work and so consider him an icon and figure to be identified with as well as emulate. Without a doubt a true role model and quintessential leader of black America. He does not have to occupy a seat or be elected to be acknowledged anyway.
Some VIP’s who graced this year summit include New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, John A. Catsimatidis the Greek Billionaire and Chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group, Marc Morial President of the Urban League, Ben Chavis a civil rights leader and assistant to Martin Luther King, Jr, and Hazel Duke President of NY State Conference NAACP etc.
In politics, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. was instrumental and arguably architect of many election victories favorable to minority candidates, helped pave the way for an African-American to vault to the presidency not just by registering millions of unregistered minority voters but through years of hard work putting the machinery in place. Many owe him a debt of gratitude. As a student of politics, I still recall what happened when he ran for United States Presidency in 1984 and 1988 making a huge impact. Always pulling huge crowds of very enthusiastic followers with chants of “Run Jesse Run”, or is it when Jesse will admonish folks in this empowering words “You may be born in the slum, But the Slum was not born in you” in other words “Get up and work hard to change your social and economic conditions. Before that he embarked on massive voter registration of minorities, without Rev. Jackson effort many minority potential voters had disdain for politics and for the most part stayed complacent about voting in elections. But instead he opened the door for enfranchisement of millions of minorities to participate in the political process. But not only that, Jesse paved the way for election of African American Mayors in Big Cities across the U.S namely David Dinkins in NY, Wilson Goode in Philadelphia, Marion Barry in Washington DC, Harold Washington in Chicago, and of course Andrew Young in Atlanta won elective offices as a result of the stewardship and political savvy of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.
In the end what really matters is results. By all measures and accounts, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. has been there and done that. Outside of Dr. King, I can authoritatively state no other civil right figure in this generation can measure up to his endeavors or achievements. Yes, he did help lift some boats stuck at the bottom, he empowered many in the Rainbow quilt as he often said the different groups represented in the rainbow idea. The man has done his share and it’s up to others to one day assume the mantle of leadership when he decides to call it quits. To be a Jesse Jackson Sr. comes with mega responsibilities. Many struggling to make it from the inner Cities look up to you and depend on you for guidance and leadership. Jesse is not just a social justice crusader who is sought after for speeches, representing the unions, an international icon who was a voice that denounced the evil of Apartheid regime and instrumental for the eventual demise. Those old enough to know, appreciate his commitment and action in the United States fighting for civil rights, justice, equality and uplifting of the down-trodden.
Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up — Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.