Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson is feeling the Bern and endorsed the socialist senator on Sunday.
In a statement, Jackson hailed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for being the candidate that will forge the “most progressive” path, arguing that the “moderate” path will leave people behind. Jackson also made a point of noting that frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden never reached out to him for his endorsement, while Sanders did.
“With the exception of Native Americans, African Americans are the people who are most behind socially and economically in the United States and our needs are not moderate,” said Jackson, as reported by CNN. “A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path. The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path. That’s why I choose to endorse him today.”
“The Biden campaign has not reached out to me or asked for my support,” he added. “The Sanders campaign has, and they responded to the issues I raised.”
According to CNN, Sanders pledged to Jackson that he would push a constitutional amendment supporting a wealth tax, allocate $50 billion to historically black colleges, and nominate an African-American woman to the Supreme Court. Jackson most especially appreciated Sanders’ plan for a single-payer health care system.
The Sanders campaign released the reverend’s endorsement prior to Jackson campaigning for the senator at a rally in Michigan on Sunday – a state Sanders desperately needs to win this coming Tuesday if he hopes to have any shot of sinking Biden in the fight to get the Democratic nomination.
Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sanders hailed Jackson as “one of the great civil rights leaders in our country.”
“What Rev. Jackson understands is that we have to move aggressively to wipe out all forms of racism in this country and we need an economic agenda that speaks to the needs of working people, not just the billionaire class,” he said. “I think with Rev. Jackson — I think we got a real boost in our campaign.”
Jackson’s endorsement of Sanders should come as no surprise, considering the two have had a positive relationship going all the way back to 1988, when Sanders endorsed Jackson for president while Mayor of Burlington.
“A candidate for president who has done more than any other candidate in living memory to bring together the disenfranchised,” Sanders said of Jackson at the time. “A candidate who is creating a historic coalition, of working people, of poor people, of women, of minorities, of students, of farmers, of peace advocates, of environmentalists” and “a man who has waged the most courageous and exciting political campaign in the modern history of our nation.”
Speaking to a crowd at the National Action Network ministers breakfast last month, Sanders fondly recalled his endorsement of Jackson in 1988. “I am proud to tell you that in 1988, a long time ago, I was one of the few white elected officials I was mayor of the city of Burlington who endorsed Jessie Jackson, who brought him to Vermont and we won Vermont for Jessie Jackson,” he said.
Jesse Jackson has been a frequent critic of President Trump, calling him the “shame of our nation” and a “racist” hellbent on “mass destruction” back in 2018. His comments were markedly different from his praise of Trump back in 1999 when the two worked on Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition to help offer a way to get African Americans into corporate America and improve their communities through building projects and jobs.
“We need your building skills, your gusto, your [unintelligible] for people on Wall Street to represent diversity, and we thank you for coming tonight. Let’s give Donald Trump a big hand,” Jackson said of Trump.