Rev. Jesse Jackson Speaks of the ‘Great Challenge’ and ‘Great Opportunity’

Learning to live together is both a “great challenge” and a “great opportunity.” Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr believes fighting for civil rights is something he must do. “This is my passion,” says the Founder & President of Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

This week he sits alongside Wanda Cooper-Jones. She’s Ahmaud Arbery’s mother. Arbery was killed while jogging in Brunswick, GA, on February 23, 2020.

When asked about the defense request last week and then again this week to bar more Black pastors from the courtroom, Jackson says, “it is designed to be a diversion.” He says the reason behind this tactic is because there’s no doubt about who killed the 25-year-old. “There is no mystery here….at the end of the day we know they killed him. They really want a mistrial.” The defense attorney argued that the presence of “Black pastors” would unduly influence the jury. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley disagreed.

But the civil rights icon says the public should not continue to focus on the topic of Black pastors in the courtroom. Instead, he says the focus should be on getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery by convicting the three men on trial. Those men are Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr.

During the interview, Jackson brought up other names of Black boys and men whose lives have been cut short. “It’s Trayvon Martin in Sanford. It’s George Floyd in Minnesota.”

After watching the videotaped death of Ahmaud Arbery, he thought about how different it would be if the tables were turned. “Imagine if White men were being killed by Black police and Black vigilantes. We would be in an uproar. It shouldn’t happen to anyone Black or White.”

Jackson says The Department of Justice must get involved in these cases because the death of Black boys and men at the hands of White men happens so frequently. “Stop killing as a way to resolve conflict,” says Jackson.

Meanwhile, he says he and his wife are doing well following a battle with COVID-19, where they had to be hospitalized. Now that he’s on the other side of that battle, he lives to continue fighting for the rights of those wronged.

“I made a vow to God. This is my passion. I serve other people. I want to fight for justice.”

Listen to the full interview below with Reverend Jesse Jackson, Founder and President of Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Action News Jax has been in the courtroom since the trial began.

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