Posted Sept. 20, 2007 – The Rev. Jesse Jackson downplayed reports Wednesday that he accused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of “acting like he’s White” for not being more forceful in speaking out against the arrest and harsh prosecution of six Black teens in Jena, La.
“This issue requires direct and bold leadership. I commend Sen. Obama for speaking out and demanding fairness on this defining issue,” Jackson said. “Any attempt to dilute my support for Sen. Obama will not succeed."
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Jackson said that Jena is another defining moment of the issue of race and the criminal justice system, and he praised his brother from Chicago, saying, Obama “has remarkably transcended race; however the impact of Katrina and Jena makes America's unresolved moral dilemma of race unavoidable.”
South Carolina’s leading newspaper, The Columbia State, reported that Jackson had condemned Obama and other presidential candidates for their seeming reticence on the matter.
"If I were a candidate, I'd be all over Jena," the paper quotes Jackson saying during a speech at historically Black Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. Jackson, who himself ran for president in 1984 and 1988, has endorsed Obama for president.
In both races, Jackson won South Carolina, where Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) currently is leading Obama by about 18 points. Black voters in South Carolina are expected to play a major role in who wins the state.
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