NAACP Convention SpeechRev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.July 12, 2005
To Chairman Julian Bond, a legendary force in the last half of the 20th century, whose work, vision and sacrifice, and whose call to conscience lifted a generation – we thank you. Of our generation of activists who survived the bullets and the lynchings, there is no brighter light, no keener mind, than Julian Bond.
To Bruce Gordon who now assumes the awesome responsibility to guide our civil rights mother ship – we share with you in your daunting task. You have the integrity, the intelligence and the strength of reasoning to take us another rung up freedom’s ladder. Be assured that the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition stands with you. The entire civil rights community will be served well to rally, close ranks and join with you in partnership.
To my lifelong friend Nelson Rivers, a giant of a man who continues to grow and serve selflessly – we are all in your debt and your mother’s debt for your unswerving faith and commitment to shared justice and security for all.
To Hillary Shelton, you are our 101st Senator and, even at a young age, in the best tradition of Clarence Mitchell – you serve us well.
To the Board of Directors – your strength, no matter the weather, keeps the ship afloat.
We meet today in the face of unusually chilly winds, when 20 US Senators wrapped in faith symbols and moral values – wearing Jesus clothes – cannot show contrition by voting to apologize for the Senate’s historic failure to oppose lynching – acts of state sponsored terror – for fear their constituents would reject them. And when there is such a cold silence from the White House when this “failure to act” occurred – chilly winds.
It is a chilly wind when the head of another country – Vicente Fox – can make a demeaning statement about Americans, and then seek to justify demeaning racial stereotypes and caricatures in the postage stamp. Even as we pay taxes at home and shed blood on foreign battlefields, the silence of the White House and Secretary of State on this is chilling.
Our Voting Rights are under attack, coupled with a growing lack of government enforcement. The silence of the Attorney General and the closed-door policy of the Department of Justice are chilling.
There is this urban chill of first-class jails for profit and second-class schools, marked by a jail drug culture that is destroying families and taking away voters. We must look anew at this international drug war in which our cities play the most minor role and pay the most major price. When I talked with New York and Chicago police chiefs, both acknowledged that the purchases are mainly suburban. The gun shops are mainly suburban, propped up by NRA policies. The coke comes from Columbia and South America; the heroin comes from Afghanistan under US occupation, brought in to the ports by ships and by trucks at known border points. The drug-gun industry attacks our cities like insurgents. We offer little defense. As we dump billions into Iraq to stop terror, the drug and gun terrorists are ravaging us at home.