Gina McCauley interviews Rev. Jesse Jackson about 2008 Presidential race for Essence Magazine

Our sister in blog Gina McCauley of What About Our Daughters has landed an exclusive interview with Rev. Jesse Jackson.  The interview comes on the heels of Barack Obama's decisive victory in the South Carolina Primary. 

Let me say that I am extremely proud of Gina and the work that she is doing.  It's great to seen a publication like Essence recognizing the talents of such a dedicated individual.  Here is just a portion of Gina's interview with Rev. Jackson: We’ve gotten used to the whole red state vs. blue state narrative. When you hear that 87,000 more Democrats voted in the Democratic primary than Republicans voted in the Republican primary, do you think we could see a change in the whole concept of what “swing state” means?

J.J.: In ’84 we put on two million new voters. In ’86 we regained the Senate because of the new southern vote. We regained the Senate in North Carolina, in Georgia, in Louisiana, in Florida and in California in ’86. A surge in Black voters in the South is the key to the Senate and the White House. They were inspired by it? Okay, that’s what I was going to ask you. To what do you attribute the record turnout?

J.J: We have the inspiration that Barack brings to the scene. Hillary, Bill—are well liked in many circles. Edwards is from South Carolina. You have an interesting combination of three people with appeal in that state. This is the first state beyond Iowa and New Hampshire where Blacks had a chance to express their vote in what has been a yearlong campaign. Blacks were courted by the media in ways that they seldom are, and those Blacks wound up being the critical difference in the election. I’ve encountered many people who say we shouldn’t question Senator Obama about what he will do specifically for African-Americans, that we should just get him in the White House and then worry about specific issues. Should we be attempting to nail him down?

J.J: Every issue that came up, he addressed. The issue of affirmative action; he’s for affirmative action. The issue of jail or criminal disparities; he’s addressed that issue. The issue of should every vote count; he’s addressed that issue. I think in this setting, we really have to look at the common ground that includes our interests. For example, in South Carolina, 62 percent of the people who work don’t have health insurance. That affects everybody. The subprime crisis. It affects us disproportionately, but it affects everybody. The Iraq War affects everybody. In Iowa I was talking about family farmers. By the time we got to Chicago, I was talking about urban abandonment. I am about addressing the structural inequalities. The media has some responsibilities to ask the right questions. It’s interesting that you say that, because I’m a younger voter. I’m a blogger and a lot of bloggers are saying that they are so turned off, and they are so irate about how the Clintons are treating Barack Obama that they absolutely will not vote for her if she wins the nomination.

J.J: That means that they’re going to vote for some anti–civil rights Republicans, who’s going to further stack the Supreme Court. And they’re going to vote for some anti–affirmative action Republicans. So you have to be mature in this process. You have to think this thing through. Politics also comes down to options. In this marathon race, you have to be walking through a storm and thinking at the same time. Barack has my vote. My point is that when it’s over, the two of them and the others who ran must close ranks because you cannot beat the right wing unless you do. Do you think that in your lifetime you will see an African-American woman win eleven primaries or caucuses?

J.J: She has to run first. You can’t ask the question that way. You’ll never know what’s possible until you put the pedal to the metal. They have to run. They have to go for it. You can’t guess that. You have to work for it. There are qualified Black women who can do that, to answer that question. There are Black women who are qualified, but you have to take the risks, do the work and take the hits because politics is a contact sport.

Read Gina's outstanding interview in its entirety by clicking here

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