‘Keep hope alive!’ Jackson brings voting message to Claflin
Sep 20, 2015
The Rev. Jessie Jackson on Wednesday encouraged Claflin University to take advantage of voting rights and “keep hope alive.”
The International Students Association hosted this week’s Power Hour in the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel. With a full sanctuary, Jackson shared his views on politics and what students can do now to become involved in making world changes.
Jackson led the audience into a chant, directing the audience to repeat after him: “I am somebody … keep hope alive!”
Junior Kareem Heslop presided over the program. The prayer, by Jellisa Ewan, was followed by a selection by senior Jacqueline Pleasant. Senior Vivian Kalu introduced Jackson, the longtime national civil rights leader.
Jackson began his message by introducing and recognizing South Carolina’s own James Felder.
“We brought the flag down, but not the agenda,” he said, citing racist tactics by some S.C. leaders. He said the first phase of African-American struggle was to fight to abolish slavery, and the next was segregation.
Jackson elaborated on the history of the civil rights movement and then got into his views on African-American voting.
“1,200,000 eligible blacks to vote, without fear of lynching.” He referenced Emitt Till and others who were lynched or denied voting rights. By not voting, African-Americans are disgracing those who fought for the right.
Jackson made many call-and-response statements. Voter participation being his main concern, he said, “Everyone on this campus should be registered to vote.”
Going even further, he said, “No one should be able to pledge if they are not registered to vote.”
According to Jackson, 300,000 blacks in South Carolina are not registered to vote. He called all present unregistered voters up front and provided registration forms for them.
"We have the power to make America better,” Jackson said. He told students that God helps minorities so minorities can help all people.
Jackson said he continues to fight for forgiveness of student loan debt because education is a necessity. Once people are educated, they can contribute.
He encouraged students and others to learn more than one language. “There are no more foreigners, we are all neighbors,” he said.
In addition to pushing for more voter participation and affordable education, Jackson said affordable health care and an end to slave labor are vital. “A million people in poverty, a million people eligible for Medicaid.”
"We want affordable health care but don’t want Obamacare; that’s like wanting the omelet without the eggs,” Jackson said. The audience thunderously applauded.
Jackson concluded his message with more chants, “Forward by hope, not backwards by fear!” He instructed everyone to yell, “Keep hope alive!”