CityViews: Rev. Jesse Jackson Talks Rainbow PUSH Summit, Parkinson’s & Race Relations 50 Years After MLK Assassination

1010 WINS — Civil Rights icon and activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. stopped by CityViews to talk about the state of race relations in our country, the upcoming anniversary of MLK’s assassination and the 21st annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit being held in NYC Feb. 8 and 9.

Jackson is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and organizer of the Wall Street Project. 

“We’re looking to expand upon past progress and discuss ways to increase opportunities for minorities and women,” Jackson said.

The organization “One Thousand Churches Connected” (OTCC) and the Wall Street Project are partnering to use spaces in church and bring in laptops to teach kids things like coding.

“We’re organizing 1,000 churches to use some empty Sunday school space to put maybe 20 to 30 laptops in one of those rooms and teach our children codes, financial games and stock market games and financial literacy — learn the science of the economic system of this country,” he said.

Jackson also reflected on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Jackson told CityViews host Sharon Barnes-Waters that he was at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated.

“It was an awful scene — it was traumatic,” Jackson said. “It was traumatic and 50 years later I feel as if it were yesterday.

“I was just traumatized, and yet I knew he would not want one bullet to stop a movement. We had to keep going. We still had to fight to end the war in Vietnam, to end the war on poverty at home,” he added.

Jackson told Barnes he was the one who had to make the phone call telling King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, her husband had been shot.

“I said he had been shot in the shoulder because I couldn’t tell her what I had seen,” he said.

Barnes-Waters asked Jackson where he thought we were now in terms of race relations 50 years after MLK’s assassination.

“We’re not in a good place in terms of presidential leadership,” Jackson said. “The kind of rhetoric coming out of the White House has not been good… But in this tug-of-war for the soul of America, we’re going to win this fight.”

Jackson also talked about how he discovered he had Parkinson’s disease.

“I stumbled and fell two or three times … and so when I went to my regular checkup the doctor said, ‘We see signs here that are not good,’ and so I take a regiment of medicine and a regiment of exercise and faith and those are three weapons: your medicine, your exercise and your faith and so I will continue to do my work,” he said.

You can watch the full interview with Rev. Jackson above.