Jesse Jackson urges Lincoln students to fight against poverty

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December 6th, 2011

Lincoln, NE – Civil rights activist and the second African American democrat to launch a nationwide campaign for the U.S. presidency: the Reverend Jesse Jackson stopped by Nebraska last week, urging students to fight against poverty and inequality.

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The Reverend Jesse Jackson addressed hundreds of high school and college students from across the Midwest Nov. 30 at the University Nebraska Lincoln’s campus. During his presentation, Jackson spoke about the struggle for social justice and fairness – past, present and future. He compared the civil rights movement to the Occupy movement, which began on Wall Street and spread throughout the country, saying it’s a new name for an old game.

“Somebody’s got to occupy, somebody’s got to fight back,” Jackson said. In a call and respond style, Jackson told the crowd to “Stay disciplined, non-violent, and focused … (in) the movement to close the gap, to make democracy real for all the people.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson urges American's to fight against poverty and inequality. (Photo by Angel Martin)

In a press conference after his speech, Jackson talked about President Lyndon Johnson’s 1960s war on poverty. He said Johnson took his cause to the Appalachia Mountains, where working coal miners, both black and white, were dying of black lung cancer.

“By taking race out of the debate, he allowed us to focus on the need to address the immorality of so much poverty among so much abundance,” Jackson said. “So, he was able to take poverty down from 30 percent down to 12 percent. We’ve abandoned the war on poverty, and now we’re having a war on the war on poverty because we have stacked the cards, and that’s not right.”

Jackson said today areas with high unemployment and crime rates are neglected zones that need attention. He says a democracy gives people the capacity to fight for what’s right. And he said Americans need to vote and support laws and policies designed to help people in need.

“So we can work our way out of poverty,” Jackson said. “We can work our way back up by rebuilding where we live.”

“And to those who have the most must share the most,” he said. “Somewhere I read, whom more is given more is required. And those who in fact choose to protect the rich … are on very, very thin moral ice.”

Jackson has been very involved with several Occupy movements throughout the U.S. He also said he would stop by the Occupy camp in Lincoln, which is still ongoing.

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