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Web Letter

Mr. Hutchinson has written a complex and nuanced assessment of Jessie Jackson that seems to praise him in a backhanded way and bury him on the other. It is no secret that Rev. Jackson is first a politician of great skill and cunning as are ALL politians regardless of hue and second, a living standard bearer of our civil rights heritage. His personal and political conduct past and present to some has been regrettable. Therefore, at this juncture in his career, luster of past civil/human rights glory tarnished, according to Mr. Hutchinson, Jessie is relegated to the shadows of political import to the African-American community. Perhaps this sentiment is a bit premature.

Mr. Jackson hosts a nationally broadcast radio program and has near instant access to all media outlets at a “moment of crises” for the black community, i.e., the latest media scandal involving Don Imus and the Rutgers women’s basketball team... Jackson is still listened to by a great portion of the black electorate which is key because Black Americans who vote will always associate Rev. Jackson with the battle to win this franchise.

Second, as far as the passing of the civil/human rights torch goes, Mr. Hutchinson is right. I don’t see Obama or many other black elected officials in the congress or otherwise of his generation fighting for that flame if you will. Mr. Obama’s hesitancy to articulate in the affirmative for gays in the military after remarks by Gen. Peter Pace recently is evidence of this among the other issues sighted by Mr. Hutchinson. Surely that upwardly mobile faction of blacks who want to divorce themselves from the style of Rev. Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton will shout from the rooftops about the “New Black Leader" they have found in Obama.

Tarnished and all, Jessie still matters to most blacks and to some in the white power elite and the democratic party who count on the Jessie factor to get out the vote for whoever the democratic standard bearer may be. What is more interesting to me is to see what kind of civil/human rights leader Mr. Obama becomes. There are many injustices left to address such as the over representation of blacks and Latinos in the criminal justice system. My sense is that until Jessie and Al pass away, there may not be many takers of this torch who can be effective in holding us all accountable for the racial progress our country is desperate for.

Sherletta McCaskill

New York City, New York, NY

Apr 10 2007 - 8:57pm