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Jackson Speaks on Voters’ Rights, Employment Equality 
By Kimberlee Buck, Staff Writer 
Published August 31, 2017

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson speaks with the Los Angeles Sentinel Editorial Board. (file photo)

Recently, the Los Angeles Sentinel had an opportunity to speak with legendary civil rights activist regarding current events in Charlottesville, voter rights, voter suppression, and today’s tech industry.  

Jackson believes the recent White supremacist protest in Charlottesville, over the removal of the General Robert E. Lee statute, is due to the unfinished business of the Civil War.  

“Robert E. Lee, in his lifetime, said he didn’t want a statue built to him,” he said. 

“It would slow down the process of healing. In spite of his request, after his death, they began to build monuments in his honor. When you lose the war, you surrender the relics of war. There are no swastikas flying in Germany, there are no Hitler statutes in Germany, there are no Hitler high schools, as in Robert E. Lee high school or Hitler highways as in Robert E. Lee highways in Washington today.” 

Jackson goes on to say the Robert E. Lee statue must come down.  

“The flags must not be flown, the confederate flag must come down, and the Electoral College must end,” he said.  

Aside from addressing and focusing on the national issue of removing statues, Jackson also spoke on voter suppression and voter justice. Last week, he along with other political, leaders led a press conference on voter’s rights and the impact of the immigration policy.  

“Black voter suppression, that’s the real deal,” he said.  

Reverend Jackson goes on to say, that the present era is focused so much on voter registration that people have ignored the impact of voter nullification.  

“We never stopped trying to nullify the vote once we got the right to vote. We got the right to vote in 1965, right after 85 years. Blacks couldn’t vote, those serving in Vietnam. You couldn’t vote on a college campus and you couldn’t vote bilingually. We shook all that up, we changed that in 25 years.” 

According to Jackson, California law states that at the age of 18, voter registration is automatic; however, the law is not being implemented. To help address this issue, Jackson is working on starting a voter justice commission. The commission will travel around the country holding hearings on voter suppression schemes, which include states that only allow citizens one day to vote, states that do not allow citizens to vote on Sundays, and states that do not allow citizens to vote the weekend before the election. Plans have already been set to make a massive push toward voter registration in Virginia and New Jersey.  

“The crown jewel of our Civil Rights era is the right to vote,” he said.  

Jackson then proceeds to speak on the comparison between the generation that didn’t experience the Civil Rights Movement, and didn’t live through drinking out of colored only water fountains and present day.  

“The difference is that Jim Crow was legal and we didn’t have the right to vote. We have a weapon that we didn’t have then,” he said. 

In addition to Jackson’s current agenda, he is also pushing for inclusiveness in the technology industry. 

“Facebook doesn’t have a Black person sitting on their board nor does Amazon,” he said.  

“We found that employment [for Blacks] is around 2 percent on the tech side and the non-tech side. The supply of Black engineers are at HBCU’s, they are producing more Black engineers then all the other schools combined. These schools have the least budget and still are producing their numbers.” 

He believes there is a low number of Blacks going into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field for several reasons. The first being the length of time it takes to complete school.  

“Engineering schools usually afford four, five, or six years, which means it’s longer and it costs more,” said Jackson.  

“Why are there more athletes? Because there are more scholarships available. Part of the engineering task is a more daunting challenge. We can do it, but we must prioritize doing it.” 

Jackson states in order to increase the level of Blacks in tech industry, society must start early introducing children to STEM fields at a young age. For this reason, Jackson is pushing for 1,000 churches to receive access to 20 to 30 computers. The computers will be utilized to teach children about the stock market and financial literacy. 

“At Christmas time, rather than buying your child another ball or another trinket, buy them a laptop. We know how to use these gadgets but we need to know how to make them,” he said. 

“The future is in the globalization of technology, our children must learn that science, and we must also teach them as best we can.” 

 

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