When I met Jesse Jackson I was surprised how different he was from the media image. Trusting what I saw on the news, I had always seen him as an opportunist. That day I realized I had been wrong.
I believe it was when we were all working on the hate crimes bill in Texas, but to be honest, I can’t remember the specific issue for sure. I just remember him. With no cameras or reporters around (he called them alligators), he got suddenly soft spoken, almost quiet. He had come as an organizer and just wanted to make sure that all people were represented in our structure. That was the moment I realized how impossible his life had been for him. He had been asked to step into the shoes of Martin Luther King. Those were shoes neither he, nor anyone else could fill. To step into shoes the whole world could see you don’t fill out would be hard for anyone.
I began to listen to Jesse Jackson more carefully. There is no question that he is showman, but he is much more as well. This article is his warning that focusing on the shooter may actually be to miss the point.
“When Rosa Parks was arrested [for refusing to go to the back of the bus], if we had focused on the bus driver and not on the states’ rights law, we would have missed the point…. We must not just settle for Zimmerman, we must repeal the Stand Your Ground law.”