The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson has just returned from a 5-day trip to the United Kingdom, where he was inducted into the historic Cambridge Union Society at the prestigious university Monday evening. The overflow crowd of more than 500 students gave Reverend Jackson a standing ovation after his presentation and a long question-and-answer session. He also spoke to the need for educating, registering and empowering Black and minority communities as the UK prepares for national elections this Spring.
Rev Jackson receives Cambridge Union Society plaque
Jackson discussed the history of the civil rights movement in the U.S., the emerging and more diverse society of the United Kingdom (and Europe), the debts we owe to Haiti and Africa, the need to globalize human rights just as capital has been globalized, and the fact that we are more free after the struggles of recent decades, but we are not yet equal. He closed by encouraging young people to dream beyond their circumstances.
Deploring the financial crisis brought up by unchecked greed for profits by the world’s banks, Jackson said, “The modern day system of finance capital collapsed. That system failed. And it put in peril millions upon millions of every day working people in the U.S., Great Britain, and around the world.”
Rev. Jackson's Speech
Reverend Jackson also visited London and Manchester, where he met with Equanomics UK – the Rainbow PUSH UK affiliate – 1990 Trust and Operation Black Vote, who have forged a national coalition to launch a Racial Justice Manifesto and voter empowerment and registration campaign – saying that the Black and minority vote in Britain can determine the winner in the upcoming elections. Rev. Jackson inspired a standing room only audience at the House of Commons aimed at setting forth a progressive agenda to educate and empower Black and minority communities, and serve as a “compass” in voting and electing Britain’s next Prime Minister and members of Parliament this spring. He urged them to “use their power to advocate for public policies such as jobs, housing, and education that will make everyone’s lives better.” Earlier, he helped launch a major billboard campaign urging Black and minority people to register and vote.
Jackson rallied them: “Once colonized or enslaved, later immigrants, now citizens, those of you who came to Great Britain from Africa, India, Jamaica—you can change the direction of this great nation!”
During his time in London, Jackson also met with a group of finance leaders on issues of corporate responsibility, diversity and inclusion. At a major event at the House of Commons hosted by The Asian Voice newspaper, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime of service. Later, he addressed the first World Tamil Forum, with representatives from 14 countries, addressing the need for peace, reconciliation and negotiations in Sri Lanka.
Keith Vaz, Member of Parliament, served to coordinate a series of events throughout London and the UK.
His long ties with the UK date back to 1980’s, when Reverend Jackson joined with Oliver Tambo, Bishop Trevor Huddleston, Ken Livingston, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and others in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest apartheid in South Africa and call to free Nelson Mandela. More recently, Rev. Jesse Jackson keynoted the rally with over 1 million people protesting the expected invasion of Iraq by the United States, in London’s Hyde Park. In August 2007, Equanomics-UK invited Rev. Jackson to help launch the new organization in a historic nine city UK-wide tour. Rev. Jackson later joined international dignitaries in the unveiling of the statue of Nelson Mandela in London’s Parliament Square. In 2009, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown bestowed the “Global Diversity and Inclusion Award” to Rev. Jackson at 10 Downing Street.
For his work in human and civil rights and for nonviolent social change Reverend Jackson has received more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees, including: Honorary Fellow of Regents Park College at Oxford University; Honorary Fellowship from Edge Hill University in Liverpool, England.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit http://www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366.