By: Chinyere Obinna Onwuchekwa

The Rainbow Push Coalition hosted its 22nd Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit on the 20th of February at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City. The theme of the event was, “400 Years Later: Closing the Wealth Gap, Expanding Opportunity.”  The summit event included a star-studded luncheon, which drew social luminaries, black leaders, top political leaders and influencers from across the United States of America. Of note were various senators and house reps as well as Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who applauded the efforts and the achievements of the Rainbow Push Organization’s leader and prominent Civil Rights Activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr for the strides that he had made in bringing the African American legacy into the forefront. Also in attendance was New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who side stepped speculation amid questions about his potential candidacy for the President of the United States of America, and encouraged all African Americans to take advantage of the various programs and that were put in place by his administration to assist black owned businesses and upstarts. Most notable was the contribution of the amount of $20 Million Dollars and the matching funds of another $40 Million Dollars by participating banks with a total amount of $ 60 Million Dollars for Minority Business Initiatives and a special fund where many minority business owners can bid on City contracts.

The floor for the event was opened by Civil Rights Leader Al Sharpton who introduced another great Civil Rights Leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. The highlight of the event was a presentation by the Reverend Jesse Jackson Snr, whose words also echoed the theme of the occasion, closing the racial wealth gap in America, and who urged the people in attendance to continue reach for the dream. In his speech he reminded African-Americans about how far we have come and how much work that we have to do to keep the dream going. Also in attendance were representatives from top performing companies like Bank of America and CVS, who detailed some of the efforts that their companies were making to sustain and empower people of color and the contributions that they were making towards helping minorities in America to succeed.

The event was wrapped up by a question and answer session by music mogul Master P, who fielded questions from the community and gave them pointers on how to succeed. It was capped up with a gala night of fundraising to keep the movement going.

Our World Media Magazine Special Correspondent Chinyere Obinna Onwuchekwa, Author of the book, Dictates of the Heart sat down with The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr for a heart to heart interview. As a civil rights leader and an eloquent mouthpiece for the African American community, the Reverend Jesse L Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988 and undertook a massive voter registration exercise that contributed to the election of many minorities statewide into strategic political positions, such as mayor David Dinkins in New York, Mayor Wilson Goode in Philadelphia, and Mayor Harold Washington in Chicago. A protégé of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Jackson no doubt remains a political institution and a man who has done so much to lift marginalized communities up by voicing his concerns about inequality in America. In his immortal words “Let’s Keep Hope Alive,” “I’m somebody,” “You May be born in the slum but the slum was not born in You,” he continued to preach and teach economic empowerment and wall street leveraging assets to empower main street.

Although slowed down slightly by age, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Snr has continued to maintain his focus and his robust clarity of purpose, and his goals are still clear, which is to create a pathway for a better future for the millions of minorities that live in America and to continue to peacefully remain focused on our goals. It is clear that the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to live through his protégé the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. who has consistently devoted and dedicated his life to continue the fight that Dr. Martin Luther King initiated to combat racial injustice, refuse economic inequality and reject racial inequity. Essentially, both leaders mirror one another and have a special place reserved in the annals of African American history. I wonder what Rev. Jackson’s legacy will be after he hands over the reign to those coming after him. But only time will tell.