Reverend Jesse JacksonRev. Jackson: "The Fight Is On"
Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "foreclosure is the biggest civil rights issue of our time," and he has issued a call to "restructure loans not repossess homes."
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Rev. Jesse Jackson is traveling around the country hosting a number of rallies bent on energizing the people who have been disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis that is running rampant throughout the country. "We are facing extraordinary conditions that require an extraordinary response," he said. "The stimulus must consider a comprehensive plan in dealing with home foreclosure."
Though his focus was on the foreclosure crisis, Rev. Jackson outlined in detail how the economic crisis is impacting student loans, healthcare, unemployment and the quality of life of those least able to afford it. He also gave a clear understanding of the dangerous and diversionary tactics that are being used to mislead, confuse and misdirect the public through the use of a wide range of code words such as the c-word (conservatism) and fiscal restraint ... words used by the same elements that got the country into the present financial mess with their reckless spending policies.
According to Rev. Jackson, there is a whole body of thought that is being filtered to the masses some of which challenge the legitimacy of the president and referring to his policies as socialist directly contrary to free enterprise. But the real purpose of those voices are much more sinister than they appear on the surface. Sentinel's publisher Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. asked the Reverend, "With a Black president and more Black elected officials than we've ever had, why can't our community benefit more from the stimulus money?"
"First of all, the stimulus is not linked to Reinvest-in-America," Rev. Jackson replied, "The stimulus went to big banks rather than reinvest or invest and that simply put other [small] banks out of business. There was not a fair distribution of the stimulus. Next, bankruptcy reform passed so that businesses could declare bankruptcy not banks; it lost because the Democrats and the Republicans were protecting banking interests over of people's interests."
The issue was raised relative to advertising in the Black press and why some of the stimulus money does not flow down to the Black media. To buttress his point, Bakewell said, $100 billion goes to General Motors (GM) and obviously they're not good stewards of the money because they're in bankruptcy.... GM has a billion plus budget for advertising and Blacks get maybe... nationally $5 million. My point is, none of that money is going to any Black companies, and there is a requirement just like in banking, for some of that money to go to the second tier (the minority communities)."
"The laws are so stacked; GM fought for bankruptcy," Rev. Jackson said, "and basically they have suspended civil rights law--the enforcement of the EEOC, contract supplies and affirmative action was basically suspended for all practical purposes. What I'm trying to say is that the fight is on for getting stimulus for equal protection under the law. Civil Rights laws must be funded and enforced."
Then the Reverend was asked to put the housing foreclosure, student loans, healthcare and unemployment in context relative to the overall economic crisis.
"At the outer edges, the president's argument is healthcare costs keeps rising. The insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies are at the table trying to protect their cash cow," Rev. Jackson explained, "And the public option threatens their cash cow because that's like a check and balance. But since Congress did not do enforcement, things got out of hand. That is why Congresswoman Maxine Waters' argument is so strong. The first issue for us is to stop the hemorrhaging and put America back to work because without a job, you can't negotiate a home loan."
Jackie Dupont-Walker then spoke to Rev. Jackson, "We're sitting here on the eve of the Congressional Black Caucus weekend, how does this message get translated to the elected officials and how do we translate it to the neighborhoods?"
He responded, "The case of Congresswoman Waters' argument is a case that must be heard; there's an attempt to shut down such voices. So we need the Sentinel, we need Black radio. It's hard for Congresswoman Waters or (Congresswoman) Barbara Lee to get on television. Their argument is that we want medical reform--public option--for competition, and checks and balance. They're right. They may lose the fight, but it's the right fight they're fighting. It's not the first time we've lost the inside battle. So what we must do is take our case to the streets... to the people."
David N. Geiger, Jr. of California Real Estate Network, Inc., next asked the Reverend, "As far as the banks and the housing crisis, what can be done to bring the banks back on line?"
"They (the banks) make money on late fees and payments than they make off regular deals," Rev. Jackson answered, "Yet they are the ones that got the stimulus because the people that got it for these guys are their peers; they are their friends, they have relationships. Rainbow/Push will be picketing the Federal Reserve in San Francisco next week as we did in Atlanta last week. We must hammer away at the bankruptcy laws, hammer away at banks, hammer away at the Federal Reserve. That's the right fight to fight."
Lori Gay of Neighborhood Housing Services asked, "What do you see modification's potential looking like if we got it to work?"
"One of every two American homeowners is behind on their mortgage because stimulus did not cover the bottom, it only bailed out banks," said Rev. Jackson, "So that the stimulus stopped total Wall Street collapse which was the right thing to do for the first wave; but then there must be a next wave--another stimulus--and it must be from the bottom up."
About the two conflicts overseas and the impact on the economy, Rev. Jackson stated, "We've lost lives, money and honor shooting at the wrong target. Iraq didn't hit us. We got into a misguided war. Now we've moved to Afghanistan. That's a high risk adventure by any standards."