July 10th, 2008
01:44 PM ET

Rev. Jackson owes God, not Obama, an apology

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.jackson2.jpg]

Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

There have been two constants in this presidential campaign: Sen. Barack Obama will openly discuss his faith and present some of today’s most troublesome issues through a moral prism. And the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. will say something outlandish and stupid that he will have to apologize for.

First, he told a reporter in South Carolina last year that Obama was “acting white” in his response to the issues in Jena, Louisiana. Then the good Rev wrote an op-ed piece proclaiming that then-Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was the only one speaking to issues of importance to African Americans.

Now, in his most vile and pathetic comments yet, Jackson was overhead telling a fellow panelist prior to an interview on Fox that he was going to cut Obama’s “nuts off” for his speeches on morality and fatherhood in the black community.

Rewind that for a moment. An African American reverend – someone who is called by God to speak to moral issues of the day – takes issue with an African American presidential candidate speaking about faith-based issues and the need for black men to take care of their children, for parents to care about their child’s health, and to turn the television off and to start reading more and more books?

If there was any further evidence needed to show that Rev. Jackson has lost his moral compass and is far out of touch with the state of black America today, this is it. And it is clear that Jackson has forgotten that as a minister, his first goal is to always address the moral issues before anything else.

I am a long-awaited family reunion cruise, and was doing all I could to stay away from work after a grueling primary season. But when I saw this story, and the lame excuses Rev. Jackson offered, nothing could keep from jotting down a few words.

Folks, I have written on numerous occasions what it was like as a teen to see Rev. Jackson stand before the Democratic national convention in 1984 and 1988 and give two of the finest speeches in history (both are on my iPod). He has left a significant legacy on the history on this nation by his work on behalf of civil rights.

But all of the good that he has accomplished it withering away due to his ego run amok, and unwillingness to step aside and allow the next generation of leaders to take their rightful place. He has long claimed the mantle of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has run with that baton as fast and as hard as he can. Yet what he continues to do is tarnish his legacy, and leave a bad aftertaste in the mouths of folks today that were babes when “Run, Jesse, Run” was a rallying cry across the nation.

What is especially galling is that Jackson would make such an idiotic comment about a man who is desperately trying to advance the issues near and dear to African Americans – and all Americans – while also speaking truth to the major problems affecting the black community.

Jackson seems to want Obama to shut up on the issue of black men fathering children out of wedlock and not taking care of their responsibility. Instead, he wants him to keep his sights on jobs, economic development and education.

And that nonsense about talking down to black people? That’s the kind of BS I’ve always heard, and it’s Jackson’s way of saying Obama thinks he is better than other black folks. That’s, right. It’s just another way of calling him uppity.

Part of the problem could be that figures like Jackson have lost a lot of their moral standing, often by their own doing. Rev. Jackson can’t necessarily give the same speech Obama gave because he committed adultery and had a child out of wedlock several years ago. He’s taking care of the young girl, but another child being raised by a single mother – even if it carries the last name Jackson – is part of the problem in black America (Yea, I said it, and someone has to stop dancing around the elephant in the room).

The issue of the black family, and the destruction of it, is the main problem we face (something that will be dealt with in CNN’s Black in America series premiering July 23 and July 24). We can talk ad nauseam about education and wealth creation, but when you have 7 out 10 children born out of wedlock; those single women having to raise those children all alone; and the rampant black-on-black crime, fueled by many of these same children, that proves we have issues that must be confronted, from the pulpit to the pew.

Instead of trying to tear Obama down or anyone else who is sick and tired of the moral decay in parts of black America, Jackson should be joining the chorus of those who say, “Enough is enough.”

I was at the Essence Music Festival over the July 4th weekend in New Orleans, and more than 5,000 people crammed into the Morial Convention Center to hear Bill Cosby speak from the same template as Obama. He didn’t hold back or mince words. He discussed domestic violence, the lack of educational achievement, and the need for black parents to raise their game. Jackson previously stood with Cosby, especially when he caught heat for his words, so what’s good for America’s Dad is not good for the guy who wants to be America’s president?

Instead of denouncing, Jackson and others should praise Obama, Sen. John McCain and other political leaders who are willing to raise their voices to moral issues today.

And if Rev. Jackson or others got a problem with a politician speaking truth to African Americans, the hell with them.

As a child of God, I’ll gladly stand on the side of any man or woman, Republican or Democrat, who is willing to say what’s right. Not what’s popular.

soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Crystal

    Sandra Martin,

    If you want to believe it or not GOD is this race. He is our very being in this world , and for you to say such thing is very sad. I am a christian I believe that Jesus die for all our sins. I was very please Sen. Barack Obama forgave Rev. Jesse Jackson for his comments. I also feel that we need to focus on the direction our country has taken, rather what a Civil Rights pioneer has sad. Rev. Jackson at the end of the day only have to answer to one person and that is God.

    Also for you to say "African Americans would vote for Obama even if Binladen was his buddy. " was very insulting because I am an college educated African-American female with hopes and dreams for my country. So just because Sen. Barack is African-American and he is recieveing so much support from the African-American community don't make us funkies.
    So since I am a christian I will overlook your misguided attempt to be funny.
    Crystal- Mississippi

    July 10, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    When I heard Obama's remarks on absent fathers I thought it was for everyone, not just African Americans. This problem is a universal one and I was glad Obama addressed it; if the concern was only for African Americans then I have to say I'm kind of disappointed.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  3. Alex

    To be clear, I do not support Barrack Obama. But this business with Rev. Jesse Jackson is starting to sound like a bit of jealousy on his part...old guard vs. the new. Even Al Sharpton is taking the issue of the newer generation far better and I commend him for that. And even Obama is trying to downplay the comment because he knows he needs to keep Rev Jackson on his side and wisely so. But as usual, the media is really making alot about nothing. And enough about reading something into the comments that really isn't there. Changing of the guard is tougher for some than people might believe.

    July 10, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  4. GAIL Centre,Al;

    Roland, I don't think anyone is paying much attention to Jackson, his time has come and gone. When Obama gets to the whitehouse, he can invite Jackson, Sharpton, and Rev. Wright for chicken dinner, and watermelon, and smooth everything out.

    July 10, 2008 at 6:26 pm |
  5. Pat

    Right On Mr. Martin! Tell it like it is. Give me truth any day. I can handle it much better than the non-sensical excuses some use to make themselves feel better as sinners.

    I have a hard time digesting the beliefs of some who say in passing that's just how it is today. I question why it is how it is today and why so many ignore the blantant irresponsibility, immoral behaviour and look the other way. I have to believe it's because it's easier to ignore than do something to change it. And I believe changing it is what we all should be rallying behind. What will the next decade bring if we continue to accept all that we know is morally and irresponsibly wrong? I for one shudder to think!

    July 10, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  6. klr

    Mr. Roland
    I just recently viewed the comment Reverend Jackson made about Senator Abama. Prayer is needed for Reverend Jackson and for Senator Abama. We must ask God to have mercy on Reverend Jackson. We all as well as Reverend Jackson must confess the scripture and hold it dear to our hearts because we need the Word of God to cleanse us from every sin.
    1st John 1:5-10 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do no the truth:" "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
    Now is the time for us all to repent for repeating the words of people when they are negative and hurtful, people let us grow up and become mature adults and stop acting like children. All those who say they are christians and bash any person if they are wrong or right is dishonoring our Heavenly Father.
    May the Lord bless you.

    July 10, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  7. Alexis M

    I think it serves Jesse right for being exposed.... If he wasn't jealous of Obama, he would not have made the comment. Especially not on Fox. Fox News is a very biased station that rarely has anything good to say about black folk. I agree with you whole heartedly Roland....

    July 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  8. DeVon

    I think Jesse Jackson needs to arrested by the Secret Service because of this riduculous comments. Whether it was said jokingly or not, it was said about a potential presidential candidate and needs to be handled accordingly. I've said for years that this man is shady and does NOT speak for all African American people. Finally the whole world can see exactly what type of irrevant and immoral person Jackson is. As an African American I fee this is a case of reverse racism. In the same way Imus was blasted, I feel Jackson deserves the same treatment. He should lose his radio show and people should think twice about donating to the PUSH Coalition. Furthermore the media should refrain from having him on as an expert guest. The church shoud also seek to strip him of his ordination of a minister. He is a black racist (yes there is such a thing) and a divisive man who is underserving of the title Reverend.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  9. Toni

    The saddest thing is to see a once great leader looking like a complete fool and, worse, a man with no purpose. As an African-American woman , I always read with interest about so many young black men and women who are political active and intelligent who say that the old Civil Rights leaders are to be honored, bui no longer followed. Being a Baby Boomer, I've always had a hard time with this. But, when I see the likes of Wright and notwJackson behave like envious spoiled brats, I'm sadly starting to agree. The good news is that this flap will simply show how far removed Obama is from this emotional old-style rabble-rousing. That's also the bad news, I'm afraid.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  10. Eileen

    In complete agreement with you and thank you for saying what needs to be said. Jackson needs to both step aside and consider a different title other than reverend. His attitude and behavior is shameful.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  11. Manuel in Sitka

    I watched Jessie Jackson as a high school student at the then Seattle Colisium back in 1979, it was electrifying and I felt honored to have that opportunity. To hear and watch him mumbling those derogitory comments made me think of that time. Has he always harbored such deep resentment of those who have the capacity to raise the bar.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  12. JimM

    Is it just me, a republican, that thinks that both the Obama lapel pin flap and Jackson's comments are meaningless and amount to nothing more than smoke. The real gaff of late is forgetting about his promise to aid in collecting money to reduce Hillary Clinton's debt and having to be reminded of it by an aide and then awkwardly trying to repair the mess. That cost Obama votes. At this juncture, Obama is his own worst enemy.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  13. Judy

    There is a growing number of people who believe Jackson's comments were staged for Obama to look good with the white voters.

    Chicago style politics.

    Personally, I don't believe it. I believe Jackson knows more than we do. One thing that greatly disturbs me is the Chicago privatization of public housing scandal that Obama is involved in. While Obama and his children set in a million dollar mansion – his convicted friend and fundraiser Rezko received millions from the state of Illinois for housing developments that soon fell into disrepair. Also, on the short list of developers are Davis and Butler (both Obama cronies) To make a long story short – take a trip to Chicago and witness first hand what Mr. Obama has done for the poor. It is shameful.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  14. Larry

    I can't help but wonder what impact Rev. Jackson's utterings will have on Sen. Obama's wife and children, both now and in the future, as this incident will be included in the history books of the future.

    My question is. Should Rev/. Jackson apologize to the entire Obama family, if not the entire DNP

    July 10, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  15. Sandra

    Very well stated.

    I'm also disgusted with the use of words by "Rev." Jackson. Very appalling.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  16. Soulful Student

    Thank you for writing this fair and accurate article. Simply put, Jesse Jackson is currently a liability to the black community, not only because of what he says but because of who he has become. And in his case, Obama's critique of the black community hits Jackson close to home because of the poor choices Jackson's made in furtherance of destroying black families.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  17. Winston

    Roland, Thanks for noticing!
    Your commentaries are always refreshing.
    Jesse and Al have shamelessly self-promoted themselves and their agendas at the expense of fellow Americans since I can remember. They are equally polarizing figures and stoke the fires of hatred for their own glory. I'm weary from them choosing sides and berating others and always elbowing their way to the front for that next great photo-op.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  18. James

    Remember Judas walked alongside Jesus, but had other underlying alternatives and motives. Association puts you on the scene with a person, but doesn't put you on the same paths of a person. Roland, if I heard what you just said preached by my pastor this Sunday I would stand up on both legs and say PREACH PASTOR!

    July 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Vivian Lamb

    I agree with your statement. Jackson is envious of Obama because he has not been in the limelight. All the attention has been on a younger black man rather than himself. Well he has gotton the attention and has been on all the news. I watch CNN and have heard Lemon trying to white wash what Jackson said. He acts as if he is in awe of Jackson and wants nothing wrong said to him. He needs to look at it for what it is. Jackson needs to step back and let the younger people start being in charge but be there with help and advise.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  20. Mike, Vancouver BC

    This is a very interesting example of how the underground sentiment really feels and looks. How many comments like this occur every day around the world not just in politics, but every day life itself. It appears that when someone has and idea nd the energy to strive for the betterment of the human race, those who did the same in their pasts are now comfortable and do not want change. We live in an ever changing world moreso today and we cannot sit still and rest on our laurels. We must strive to win the race of life, no matter what faction. To obtrain the greatest goal of all. TO GET ALONG AND FEED THE WORLD.

    Reverend Jackson has lost any respect I ever had for him as I grew up in life.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  21. Jim

    I spent 16 years in Fresno, Calif – 1980-1996
    Please tell Rev. Jackson to go there today & walk down "G" street & Blackstone Ave between Shields ave & Belmont Ave- Its gotten worse over the years.
    He just might run into a man driving a green Cadilac convertable
    with gold chains selling drugs, quite a few homeless people walking the streets, teens with their pants hanging low & their boxer shorts pulled up high. Senator Obama had it RIGHT . The good Rev. would do well to go put His nose in a Bible & read what it says & Be a Doer of the word. & remember that " every idle word spoken will have to be accounted for" " To Whom more is given- MORE is required"

    July 10, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  22. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Nice post Roland..............very nice. It is good to see someone tell it like it is without sugar coating stuff. Sharpton said it correctly the other night when he talked about Obama not being a civil rights leader. That is exactly it. Obama isn't. Jackson needs to realize Obama is appealing to all Americans. So, leave him be. What did Jackson think of Wright? He didn't like it. So why does he contribute to Obama's opposition by his remarks? Jackson............shut up

    July 10, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  23. Ruban Miramar, FL

    JJ's chickens have come home to roost. It is a sad state of affairs when a person recognized as one of the more prominent leaders of the AA community happens to be the loudiest critic of new leadership rising through the ranks. This is the time for the old gaurd to offer wisdom and guidance not scuttle but remarks that divide all Americans. I like to say to all the Jessie Jackson's, Andy Young's, and Bob Johnsons of the world – you open many doors so that America's sons and daughters would never have to encounter the injustices that you faced. Pass the baton – let the new blood prepare the way for the generation that follows. True leadership is best displayed by knowing how to follow.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  24. Suzy

    I've never really considered Jesse Jackson a Reverend. In the time that I've been aware of him (not being old enough to have seen him with Dr. King), it always seems like he's done more to stir up disputes and bitterness than ever helping people really move forward and try to make the U.S. more united. I think he's irrelevant, for the most part. I think of him (and Sharpton) as an off-topic politician than any kind of reverend or Christian. His latest comments just prove that even more to me. I sincerely hope that someday soon, he'll learn to just take a back seat and perhaps use that time to more closely examine his own life than to keep sticking his nose in everyone else's.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  25. Diana

    I think Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Al Sharpton, and Robert Johnson should all go on a deserted island together and stay there. When we say we have had enough, it is because we have had enough of them. Jesse Jackson should have learned his lesson from the nickname he called New York some years ago. SHUT UP JESSE!!!!! Those that are criticising Obama are jealous because they are not him. Grow up already. Step aside and watch in silence.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  26. Joann Alexander

    Well said Roland. I enjoy you everytime I hear your comments on subjects such as this. It has been almost 24hour and I am really sick of hearing about Jesse Jackson....now it seems he is gloating.....He did a great job in the fight for Civil Rights. Currently I think he is a little bitter.....what Sen Obama said did not talk to blacks I attended the event in Power Springs, GA with my family and saw that when he
    made the those we as African American applauded him, because it needed to be said.....everyday so Jesse should get out and do the same....even with his flaws, or he should just sit down and shut-up.
    joann from Georgia

    July 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  27. Faye

    Roland, tell Jesse we already have Hannity,Levine,Limbaugh,O'rilley and how many other hate mongers and they can express it so much better than he can.Please we are tired of the hate........Obama will be a refreshing change..............

    July 10, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  28. Chris

    I'm a African-American woman who has resented these "self-appointed" black leaders for years who have perpetuated the problems in our community by turning their heads, denials, excuses, and even participation. It is refreshing to have the truth about the problems from with in addressed honestly and constructively by Obama. Thank you Roland for the best commentary on this subject to date. You are the Man!!!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  29. Pat Ryan

    Roland, I couldn't have said it any better myself. You are a man of insight and integrity, while Jesse Jackson has deteriorated himself into a vile mess, a disgrace to the Christian ministry he claims to represent, and a totally irrelevant voice in today's politics.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  30. Joe

    Thanks Roland for saying the truth about Jesse Jacksons comments, People like Jackson and Wright I believe are envious of Sen. Obama. why can't they just keep quiet and let Let Sen. Obama run for the highest Office of this Nation, its difficult enough that Sen. Obama has Nagative comments coming from very Conservatives like Sean Hannity, Russ Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and other conservatives Fox News Host bringing out anything Sen. Obama say because they just can't stand Sen. Obama running for C

    July 10, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  31. Margie

    Excellent Commentary Roland,

    Jesse is totally envious of this young man who God has ordained for a time as this. This cool cat is about to accomplish what Jesse could not.
    The Rev needs to repent and join all the people who want to see this Nation going into a bight future. The words he spoke were hateful and only shows his private side which the media don't see often. As you pointed out, he destroyed his own credibility, bringing dishonor to his family and race. This gets him some lame light but we all need to focus on getting Obama elected. Jesse, retire in peace. Obama, Please lead the Nation, we need you.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  32. Fay, CA

    It's crucial that African-Americans take a hard look at the problems plaguing their community–calling Obama an elitist and saying he's "talking down" to blacks is foolish–these issues should be addressed. Jesse Jackson's crude and disgraceful comment about Obama made him look out of touch and a bit jealous.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  33. Tm

    His comments were private comments. WE ALL DO IT!!! Asian, Hispanic, Black, White and as a matter of fact, this has absolutely nothing to do with race. His mistake wasn't his comments, his mistake was getting caught saying them. I'm sure he didn't mean it literally, its just a phrase. I'm sure if stuck a microphone in every cranny of your respective lives we will find that most of us/you say screwed up things. We all say mean and hurtful things about people we love and people we know, its a fact of life.

    Now with that said, as a public figure there's no room for such mistakes. He did the right thing and apologized immediately, unfortuntely, its a bit late and now he's living up to his nasty nickname Jesse Jackass.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  34. Joann Alexander

    It is hard to beleive that Jesse Jackson would even allow that type of
    comment to come out of his mouth. While I know he is allow to make mistake like everyone else, those words has no place in a REV's mouth on stage to someone else. I think he is a little bitter, because what Senator Obama says about the African American community is true. I think Jesse Jackson needs to get out and speak to these issue regarding men......but I am not sure how it will go over now.
    And I do think the media has exposed it now please put it to rest because I am sick of seeing Jesse Jackson on every channel now.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  35. Dr. Barbara Palmer

    Excellent piece. You have stated clearly and succinctly exactly what I have long been saying. We must convince Jackson and those of the 60’s generation who have not "grown", to step aside for the next generation. The differences are not ALL generational. Many older children of the civil rights struggle have moved on from the hot button issues and have sought out 21st century ways of lifting others and us. We have not clung to the 20th century as if all solutions resided there. I marched and demonstrated in the 60's and campaigned for John Kennedy. Today, I am an active and passionate supporter of Senator Barack Obama. Go Barack, all the way to The White House!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  36. L.G. Smith

    "The Wrong Reverend Jesse Jackson" ceased to be a relevant influence for me when he chose to have an affair and subsequent child outside of his marriage. Obama is right, and in his heart, the Wrong Reverend knows it. Jackson is simply playing 1970’s politics.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  37. Peggie Marie Coursey

    I agree with Roland Martin, it's time for African American's to move forward with change. It does not mean that, we have forgotten from whence we came. My heart fell on the floor. Rev. Jackson does owe God first, African Americans and the United States of America, an apology.

    Yes, mistakes are going to be made, and we are not always going to agree with each other. I am sure Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be so proud, I see this historical event as Dr. King's dream coming to pass. ( Already has come to pass) Who would have thought an African American would succeed and come this far by faith and a woman as Presidential candidate.

    Rev. Jackson, we are praying for you. It's Sen. Barack Obama's mantal, if you are being selfish, so be it, take your seat and sit down, I am so ashame of you. If you wanted to run again to late, I've always looked up to you, I'm sooo– ashamed, can' t you be happy for Sen. Obama and African Americans, in times like these? Get over it!!! I thought you had more class, but apparently not.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  38. Tracey - Boston

    Hello Roland!

    I hope you are trying to enjoy the rest of your vacation. A few words?

    You said a mouth full...and it was all truth.

    A local station talked about this issue this morning and said that Jesse Jackson is the old school (Sharpton too) and he should step aside for the new school of thought from African Americans. I agree.

    No doubt he has his place in history, he served well. Now let new blood stand up front, conquer other issues that tear at the fabric of our society!

    Thank you.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
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