The Atlantic

Jesse Jackson on Reparations: ‘We Are Due a Different Kind of Recognition’

Thirty years ago, the reverend made reparations for slavery core to his presidential campaigns. Now he’s watching as the House grapples with a proposal to study their feasibility.
Source: Seth Wenig / AP

Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1984 with a lot of ideas and a little support, the second black candidate, after Shirley Chisholm in the 1970s, to organize a national campaign for the presidency. His presence in the race was a nuisance to Democrats at the time who worried that his policy proposals were too left-leaning. But the “Rainbow Coalition” he cobbled together—an assortment of minority groups, black and brown people, farmers and poor factory workers, the LGBTQ community and white progressives—compelled them to deal with his ideas.

“Merely by being black and forcing other candidates to consider his very real potential to garner black votes, which they need, Jackson has had an impact,”. An aide for Walter Mondale, the eventual Democratic nominee, went a step further, telling Smothers, “Jackson’s being in the race gets more information on things such as South Africa, affirmative action and black colleges into Mondale’s briefing books.”

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