Thursday, August 23, 2007


Indefatigable human rights campaigner, rainbow politician and Baptist preacher the Rev Jesse Jackson has been making quite an impact on his UK visit, which has had two aims: to mobilise black communities into social action, and to mark the United Nations day for the remembrance of the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition. How much impact he will have on the outlook of some fast-growing but culturally and religiously conservative black churches remains to be seen. But he has been characteristically outspoken.

"Is the Bible a liberation manual, or does it teach you to adjust to oppressive conditions? Adjusting to oppression is unbiblical. Jesus leads us to the cross, not to the swimming pool"... "What made Dr Martin Luther King and Jesus and Moses most significant was not unity, because none achieved unity. Jesus killed at 33, Dr King killed at 39. But they were minorities with majority visions."

"Britain has been quite astute at covering up the lack of progress. Tony Blair said Colin Powell was a great guy. But if he believed that, why didn't he have a black secretary of state?"

On Monday, the anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, Jackson flies back to Washington DC, and his first task will be to lead a protest outside a suburban gun shop. Earlier this month he was in Chicago, where a black man died after being "subdued" by police in his own home using a Taser gun and pepper spray. Last month he was in San Francisco speaking at an anti-gun rally. The same month, he was also in Ghana calling for greater integration, and action in Dafur.

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