Jesse Jackson: Racism is a bigger fight now but we have more tools to fight it

Jesse Jackson has told those protesting against racism that they face a big fight but that they have more tools available to them than he did.

The Baptist minister and politician was also a civil rights activist, beginning in the 1960s and working with Martin Luther King Jr among others.

Now 78, he spoke to Sky News amid a similar movement against racial injustice, inspired by the deaths of black Americans at the hands of mostly white police officers.

American Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson campaign, Columbia, Missouri, April 16, 1984
Image:Jesse Jackson was a candidate for US president in the 1980s

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Comparing today’s battle to that faced by him and others all those decades ago, he said: “When we faced men in the past, we couldn’t fight back, we couldn’t vote, we could march.

“But now we can march and vote. We have mass media when we were once locked into three-network television. We can film a lynching and the whole world responds.

“We didn’t have telecommunications in that time, we didn’t have social media, we didn’t have the right to vote.

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“It’s a bigger fight but we have more tools to fight.”

His words come almost three weeks after the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Mr Floyd’s death, the latest in a number of black people at the hands of police, sparked protests firstly in Minneapolis where he died, and then across the US and around the world.

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The protests, led by campaign group Black Lives Matter, have focused mainly on racism in policing and police brutality but Rev Jackson said racial injustice would not be solved by a change in policing alone.

He said: “The best of the police won’t help with the health disparity, employment disparity, education disparity, banking disparity.

“Police are just the outer layer, the outer skin of racism. Racism is borne deep.”

Rev Jackson also criticised US President Donald Trump as “immature and erratic” in his handling of the protests.

The people of America are saying they've had enough - this time it feels different

The people of America are saying they’ve had enough – this time it feels different

He said: “[Trump] has shown more sympathy for the police than the man who has been dead.

“He has cast his die, his lot, with the right wing and, rather than being a reconciler, he has been a polariser.”

He added: “I think in some sense Trump has exposed what tyranny looks like but the good news is that people are fighting back and we’re fighting back across lines of race and gender – in some places all whites are marching in small towns.

“A raw nerve of decency is coming out now a raw nerve of decency has been touched.

“This season of ugliness brought about by the lynching of George Floyd has brought the best and worst out of us.

“The worst is lynching but the best is fighting back.”

Rev Jackson said that the US and UK both have “white supremacy in their DNA”, saying: “Racists believe they have royal blood and the rest of us have less than royal blood”.

“Racism is a lie and we will fight it until it doesn’t exist any more.”

Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?

Sky News will broadcast a global debate show on Tuesday night at 8pm – looking at the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, and examining institutional racism and how we fix it.

If you would like to be part of our virtual audience, and have a chance of putting a question to our panel, please send your name, location and question to

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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