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Hypertown: Jesse Jackson and His Detractors

| August 4, 2013

Jesse Jackson keeps the Dream Defenders' hope alive. (Richard Hurd)

Jesse Jackson keeps the Dream Defenders’ hope alive. (Richard Hurd)

If you’re in the news business, there are two things of which you can be absolutely certain: The sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, and when Jesse Jackson comes to town he will say something that will piss off a lot of people.

Sure enough, not long after Jackson arrived in Tallahassee to lend his support to the Dream Defenders Tuesday (July 30), state Republicans, from the governor’s office on down to your local mosquito control officer, were in a tizzy over Jackson’s characterization of Florida’s chief executive.

Before we get into specifics, I hear you asking, “Who and what are the Dream Defenders?” And with that question, you have explained the reason not only for Jackson’s visit, but also for his inflammatory comments. The Dream Defenders are a group of mostly black Floridians who have been quietly camped out at Gov. Rick Scott’s office, hoping to persuade the governor to call a special legislative session to reconsider the state’s Stand Your Ground law, a ludicrous statute that has the overall effect of allowing gun owners to escalate petty disagreements into life-altering tragedies.

The Dream Defenders have been at Scott’s office for more than two weeks, and of course the news media largely moved on. That’s where Jackson comes in. Had he simply clasped hands with the group and joined them in a rousing rendition of “Kumbaya,” news editors might have given the story a paragraph—if it were a slow news day. No one knows this better than Jesse Jackson.

Does the reverend truly believe, as he said on the Rick Sanchez Radio Show, that Scott is behaving like the late segregationist governor George Wallace? Probably not. Does he really think that the sit-in by the Dream Defenders is “The Selma of our time?” Maybe, and maybe not. But by the time Scott and his ilk were done demanding that Jackson apologize to all Floridians, and calling his comments, “offensive, inappropriate, divisive and ill-informed,” lo and behold, we were back talking about the Dream Defenders and Stand Your Ground.

And then, wouldn’t you know it, on Friday the Tampa Tribune published a column by Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford in which the speaker said he would ask the chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee to hold hearings this fall on Stand Your Ground. That’s a far cry from a special legislative session, and the tone of Weatherford’s piece made it clear that Stand Your Ground is here to stay. But in calling for hearings, Weatherford defined the overriding responsibility of Florida’s lawmakers: “First, we must listen.”

Funny how the listening seemed to start just around the time of Jackson’s noisy visit.

Jackson knows that in order for something wrong to be made right, first you have to keep the conversation going. But the news cycle was moving on in the weeks after the George Zimmerman trial, and those folks in Tallahassee, who simply want their governor and their legislators to hear them, were being drowned out by silence. And silence, as Jesse Jackson knows better than anyone, is the enemy of change.

Jackson also knows that it really doesn’t matter if his comments are over the top. He knows before he ever arrives in a city or town who is with him and who is not.

Am I a fan of Rev. Jackson’s? The answer is sometimes. I had the privilege of sitting in a conference room with him in Atlanta six or seven years ago, and was awed by his ability to capture a roomful of people. He began the meeting by speaking very softly, which made the room even quieter—no one dared move a chair or crumple a piece of paper, and the only sound was his voice, barely above a whisper. Once he had our rapt attention, his voice began to build until we were swept up in the power of his argument, even if we didn’t all necessarily agree with it.

Jackson learned oratory from his mentor, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, whose “I Have a Dream Speech” was delivered 50 years ago this month. It is that dream that is motivating those folks in Tallahassee who believe, as do many of us, that our country is moving backwards from the apogee of the civil rights movement and the landmark laws it inspired.

Was I among those who, back in 1984, were surprised to hear Jackson refer to New York City as “Hymietown”? Sure. It was a low moment, a dropping of his guard as he spoke quietly to Milton Coleman of the Washington Post, who happens to be black. Do I define his life by that remark? No, though it was a sad reminder that prejudice cuts both ways.

But let’s talk about Jackson’s nemesis in this latest dustup, our own Gov. Scott. Thus far, in his first term the peripatetic Scott has distinguished himself mainly for showing up to take credit for other people’s hard work, as he did the other day here at the Flagler County Airport. His flip-flop on accepting Federal dollars to expand Medicaid in Florida, and his subsequent inability to persuade the GOP-dominated legislature to go along with him, revealed him as an ineffective leader with both eyes on the polls.

So it’s really not surprising that he stays away from Tallahassee to avoid running into those inconvenient demonstrators who are insisting that he address Florida laws that literally amount to life and death. If Jesse Jackson has anything to say about it, those demonstrators will, at least, be heard.

Steve Robinson moved to Flagler County after a 30-year career in New York and Atlanta in print, TV and the Web. Reach him by email here.

Eddie Murphy as Jesse Jackson: Apologizing for “Hymietown” (SNL, 1984)

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45 Responses for “Hypertown: Jesse Jackson and His Detractors”

  1. FL FAN says:

    Great article!

  2. Freddy says:

    If Jesse Jackson and the rest of his cohorts would concentrate more on getting these non working protesters jobs their life could get better and help the economy instead of expecting the working class to feed and house them.

    • The Truth says:

      Freddy: I love how you jump to the conclusion that these protesters are unemployed. When the tea party protests, they’re “American” and “fighting for our rights”. When anyone outside of your political group protests, they’re “unemployed” and “looking for a hand out”.


  3. Marissa says:

    My only wish is that Rev Jackson take the marbles out of his mouth. I desperately want to hear what he has to say – I really do.

  4. Charles Gardner says:

    What is it about ” stand your ground” that is racest?

    • Robert says:

      Again, good work Mr. Robinson.

    • Steve says:

      Charles, the law, in and of itself, is not racist, but its application often is. The law is a misguided, NRA-inspired “solution” to confrontations, and is a danger to everyone, black or white. The Tampa Bay Times did an exhaustive study of the law’s application, examining some 200 cases and concluded that, “If you claim ‘stand your ground’ as the reason you shot someone, what happens to you can depend less on the merits of the case than on who you are, whom you kill and where your case is decided.”
      Among the study’s findings was this: “People often go free under ‘stand your ground’ in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim — and still went free.”
      As for the issue of race, the study found that, “Defendants claiming ‘stand your ground’ are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.”
      The entire article can be found here:

  5. m&m says:

    Jackson is a mucher and has thrived on making trouble and should be in prison along with Sharpton for inciting riots..

  6. Ben Dover says:

    That`s because him and Al Sharpton came here spreading racial hate to a case that had nothing to do with race, at least not the White one, White people had nothing to do with what happened the night Trayvon died, but its easier for these two racist to point the finger at Whitey , then admit that black thugs robbing houses and committing home invasions in that housing complex is what led to Trayvon`s death. They know they are wrong ,they know Trayvon attacked George, so now the new battle cry is get rid of The Stand Your Ground law , it had absolutely nothing to do with this case, other than Georges attorney`s were going to maybe use it , but they decided not to, when they saw the courts were ready to use George as a sacrificial lamb to quell the crowds that Jessie and Al stirred up with the racial nonsense.I`d expect this behavior from Sharpton , his arrest record is rife with it, but JJ lost my respect jumping on that tired old sinking boat.

  7. The Geode says:

    Food for thought: Maybe the problem isn’t the law but the way it’s applied. It allows “pistol-packing cowards” the ability to START a fight when at any other time this same person wouldn’t entertain the idea of confronting another man. Every man have a right to protect himself, but you dare suggest we should have the right to instigate a fight and shoot people? Hell, people shoot people every day in every race variation known …except the Asians, Indians, and Jews who seem to collectively stuff in order. OOPS! Was THAT racist?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jesse Jackson and Al Shalaton are in the business of promoting RACISM. They profit greatly by it and make sure HATRED and RACISM remain alive an well in America.

    It is a shame these blacks are such dangerous traitors to their own race.

  9. Outsider says:

    The “ludicrous” law you refer to is really not so ludicrous. It permits persons such as myself to walk up to any ATM in any location at any time with the confidence of knowing not that I can shoot someone who tries to rob me, but that there are a whole lot less crooks who would try it in the first place. That is the real success of the law, but that success, which is exponentially more common than a self defense shooting, never makes it to the nightly news or Jesse Jackson’s list of ridiculous things to march around and protest.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      The law always said you could shoot somebody in that situation if you had to. The only difference was you had to look for a way out without actually killing the guy if it was possible or you would be held accountable. Now you don’t. How is this minimal requirement showing an actual need for self defense something any human being would not consider the lowest required level of decency in a civilized society? Why would anybody defend a legal loophole that allows you to kill another human being without it being absolutely the last resort?

      Trust me, I am the Post-Traumatic Poster Child. If you threaten me or mine, I will hurt you. But I don’t understand this law. It should be called The Bully Enabling Act. For punks. Like Zimmerman.

  10. biker says:

    Jackson is a race baiting hate mongerer. Who makes a living off of stirring trouble and creating issues where there are none He and Sharpton are two of the biggest racist themselves.

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    Discriminate and “type cast” much? Why is it that people ASSUME (Remember what that means?) that the Dream Defender protesters are unemployed and being supported by tax payers?! Again, please get beyond your prejudice, read the articles fully, and do try to understand that these are STUDENT protesters.

    They are well within their constitutional rights. . . this is true Democracy in action. . . and Rick Scott needs to be voted out!

    Another great article, Steve!

  12. RHWeir says:

    I have to wonder what would happen if I camped out in the Governor’s office. Oh, I know, they would tell me to leave and if I didn’t, I would be arrested. I forgot about the “hymietown” comment, I don’t care if it was in 1984, it is a telling statement about the man. This whole mess started with the GZ trial and verdict and the president’s reaction and subjective statement. The president should have said: The jury has spoken, the findings are being reviewed by AG Holder, the DOJ and the FBI. Let’s all just wait and see.

  13. DRuta says:

    “a ludicrous statute” ?????? Pretty much sums up which side of the fence you”re on & it’s not with the law abiding hard working taxpayers. Marble mouth Jessie is all about Money and how much can he extort to stay away. These protestors need to go. Lets talk about the cost incurred to the taxpayers to date, Since you neglected to include it, allow me its around $300,000 .00 so far. I for one will not support any politician that would support the removal of this law, which by the way has helped the Victims of crime regardless of their character. Most of us view these idiot protestors as just that if not sheep lead by a fantasy based on half truths or lies. You want to change a law put the time in & wear out some soles on your shoes, go door to door obtain “Valid” signatures and submit a petition to get it on a ballot for the states voters to vote on. But no these mindless sheep would rather sit around lazily bleating baaa baaa

  14. Ron says:

    Isn’t it unfortunate that the blacks in America are being lead by two hate mongers and raging racists as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharlaton. They promote hate, anger and derisiveness.

    Pitiful that the blacks follow them like sheep.

    • A.S.F. says:

      Ron says: You mean, the way Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaughs’ dedicated listeners follow their every baited breath like sheep? You know what they say about what happens when you poiint your finger at others…In what direction are your other fingers pointing?

  15. Jack Stewart says:

    What really makes no sense in this whole thing ,is that if the “stand your ground law” is taken off the books…it will hurt the black community more then it will impact the white community….Didn’t Florida hold a hearing recently on the stand your ground law? Come on Jessie …..take a good look at the gun laws in Chicago….and tell me that the criminals will abide by gun laws…what ever they are.

  16. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    So to sum up the article, The end’s always justify the means, even if it means maligning individuals and an entire state with knowingly false accusations. And yet people wonder why the good Rev(s) Jackson and Sharpton aren’t really taken seriously any more.

  17. Columbo says:

    While Rev Jackson is at it, will he speak on the recent attack in Orlando by 3 black males on a Hispanic looking male while he was walking to his home in his neighborhood? According to three eye witnesses who saw and called 911, the 3 black males continually referenced Trayvon Martin during their vicious attack on the Hispanic looking male.

    Can we get an answer as why the police is insisting it is not race related even though all 3 of the 911 calls say otherwise.

  18. oh my says:

    The Flagler live policy asks for non offensive language.

    When any author stoops to P—everybody off, it gives all an idea as to their “class”.

    Any wonder why our kids can’t speak decent English!

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Oh my, language or what you call “decent English” has nothing to do with class, except for those who like to use language—and the language of class—as another way to profile people, to discredit them or put them down. We generally ask commenters not to be offensive because for the most part commenters use offensive language gratuitously. But we don’t have a categorical policy against foul language. In the right context it’s as good as “the poetry of the people,” as Octavio Paz put it. But as you well know poetry of any sort isn’t in everyone’s pen. The foul-mouthed Norton Smitty, a frequent commenter here, usually gets his comments approved because he can be as good as Carlin. We’ve yet to know a commenter who can write that sort of poetry as well as he does. Steve’s line, mild as it is, is on target: you only have to mention Jesse Jackson’s name to get the verbal bile going. Piss off people—only certain people to be sure, and probably the sort of people who pass themselves off as perfect ladies and gentlemen in public but call him a nigger the second they’re among like-mindless pals—is the least he does. Too bad he’s cooled down so much.

      • NortonSmitty says:

        Thank you Pierre for the Carlin comparison. Only Mark Twain is as worthy a goal for an appreciative wannabe writer. I believe provocative language is a tool that must be used sparingly and only when it is needed to provide the heat in the story like a pepper in a fine sauce. I’d like to think I was schooled in the use of these verbal darts by my Ukrainian Grand-mama when I was a young boy. I’ll never forget the day when she sat me on her knee and told me “My boy, never forget that profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate mother-fucker.” And I hope I haven’t.

  19. Outsider says:

    @Sherry: I don’t proclaim to know what the work status of these “students” is, but when I was a college student I didn’t have time to go sit in a weeks-long protest. I ran a business with my father, painting and cleaning houses, mowing lawns and the like. I paid my way through school, and I paid for my first brand new truck while in school. I will agree that if some of these students have been there for weeks, one can certainly conclude they are not concerned with getting back to the task of paying for their education, and someone else must be doing that for them.

  20. A.S.F. says:

    The tone of most of the comments on this forum are the best defense I can think of for the Dream Defenders. Sharpton and Jackson don’t even have to open their mouths, as far as I’m concerned, considering what comes out when most of the commentors on Flaglerlive open their’s.

    • Ben Dover says:

      A.S.F the tone is well deserved , you don t see white leaders running around the country screaming racist remarks and trying to incite riots when black people kill white people, what gives Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson the right to do it , White people had nothing to do with any of it and neither did Stand Your Ground, why don t you follow intelligent news reports instead of Fox news that makes money like them two idiots starting trouble. If white leaders did do that ,it`d be a 24 hr job, because more blacks kill whites, then whites kill blacks ,and more black kill blacks as well , instead of playing the race card why not try to keep your kids in school and teach them stealing and killing is not normal , nor having 5 kids and going on well fare either , blacks that think like this make it bad for all the good black people that went to school got jobs and are productive citizens, Dr`s ., Lawyers, Teachers, Nurses and yes President!!, there`s no excuse anymore, no one is holding anybody back ,except for Al; Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, they keep trying to tell you its 1960 …..don t listen to them

  21. biker says:

    Really Tristan? Lol Your right about the mention of Jackson’s name. But the reason for the reaction is that his act is getting old. In his case the old race card doesn’t have the same impact it once had. Simply said the man has cried wolf way too many times, and profits from it as well. He is not a credible person at all

  22. Oh how Sad says:

    I really try not to comment on any of these articles, because I will get on my soap box and stay there for sometime. But this evening I felt compelled to comment…
    I am all for the Stand your Ground law, it is the application of the law that is the problem. The application of the law is what is racist. “Steve” posted the article done by the Tampa Bay Times that viewed over 200 cases in which the law was applied and if you read the article you will see why the law is being called racist.
    I personally know of a person who was clearly defending themselves, ( I was an eye witness) and she initially received 15 years in prison. Her attorney was using the Stand Your Ground law in her defense when she shot her sister’s boyfriend, he was not killed but he was wounded. He attacked her and her sister as they were returning home from dinner with their father and me. We had no idea she had a gun in her purse. Anyway her father and I both testified at the trial and in the end she was found guilty of attempted murder in the first degree, they said stand your ground didn’t apply even though he attacked both of them with a knife, they both had to get stitches to close up some of their cuts. After several appeals and 8.5 years she was finally let out, the verdict was overturned by the appeals court.
    Again I say it is the application of the law.
    Yes, we are black.

  23. Sherry Epley says:

    Right On “Oh How Sad Says”. . . IF EVERY citizen of the USA enjoyed truly EQUAL opportunities, and EQUAL justice. . . there would be no issues to discuss here. If we, in our heart of hearts, (as religious leaders say) loved every other human being as ourselves. . . there would be no issues to discuss here.
    Unfortunately, that is NOT the honest reality in the USA or on our planet, in general.

    To debate the symptoms of racism, bigotry, prejudice and discrimination in the context that pretends that those terrible attributes of society do not exist in our culture is absurd!

    In addition, while I worked (beginning at age 17) and went to college at the same time, of the many people I know, not one of them or their children worked while going to school. Is there more “type casting” here to assume that all black students are on some kind of public assistance and should be working as well as going to school? Especially when their white counterparts are not, and we do not expect them to. . . this is not so subtle discrimination. How very sad that we do not see it in ourselves.

    • CCG says:

      Don’t you think it’s ” typecasting” to say white counterparts did not work while going to school and weren’t expected to? Perhaps you didn’t know of anyone else but yourself who worked, but your generalized statement, does not apply to all.

  24. CCG says:

    Funny that these protesters are described as students. Most of them aren’t and others are paying the way for them to occupy the Capital. They are misleading folks with their demands and “facts”. They are using Trayvon Martin to promote their “cause” which is thinly veiled as a fight against “racism”. Ask what exactly do they want and you will get vague answers…stop racial profiling…stop school to prison pipeline. Ask if they are aware Trayvon Martin was the recipient of the benefits of a diversion program within the Miami Dade School system that kept him out of the juvenile justice system and you will hear silence.

  25. the more you know says:

    Very informative article. Though not likely what the Rev Jackson and supporters of his message want to hear…

    Racial bias and ‘stand your ground’ laws: what the data show:

    “Within the African-American community, the skepticism about stand your ground can run deep.

    Yet in Florida, some of the most ardent defenders of the law have been black defense attorneys. The reason: Their black, often young, clients are the most successful users of the law. Indeed, data show that black defendants have a high success rate in invoking stand your ground in black-on-black violence. In fact, if all cases are taken into account, black defendants have a higher success rate in claiming stand your ground than do white defendants, and they attempt to claim stand your ground at higher rates.[…]

    [Y]oung black men are disproportionately involved in violent crime. While blacks represent 12 percent of the US population, they make up 55 percent of its homicide victims, the vast majority of those perpetrated by other blacks.

    Gun control has yet to have a clear effect on the situation. Violent turf wars in Chicago have sent the murder rate soaring even though the city has some of the strictest gun controls in the entire country.

    An investigative report by the Tampa Bay Times last year added more nuance to the issue of stand your ground. It analyzed 200 stand-your-ground cases in Florida and found that defendants who killed a black person were found not guilty 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person were found not guilty 59 percent of the time.

    The paper noted that the discrepancy was due in part to the fact that black shooting victims were more likely to be armed and in the process of committing a crime when shot. In the 11 cases that involved whites killing blacks or blacks killing whites, no discrepancy in conviction rates was apparent – four of five blacks who shot and killed a white person escaped punishment while five of six whites who killed a black person escaped punishment.”

  26. Uncle Tom says:

    Got news for all you “liberal racist ass kisser”. There will be a Civil War in America very soon, and it will be over “race”. Because ,like some have said…Racism, Bigotry and all those nasty negative feelings have only GROWN larger on BOTH sides of the Piano keyboard ! Ebony & Ivory will NEVER live in perfect HARMONY !

  27. Sherry Epley says:

    Every legitimate news outlet I can find says the Dream Defenders mentioned in this article are primarily students and volunteers. I would appreciate concrete facts that prove otherwise. Has any one of those commenting here actually been to Tallahassee to interview each and every person protesting to determine if they are collecting benefits or being paid to be there? Since all mainstream media reporters are stating they are students, the comments saying they should be working are simply inappropriate. . . and I believe discriminatory.

    • CCG says:

      “Agnew, 28 and a graduate of FAMU’s business school, quit a sales job with a pharmaceutical company in Charlotte, N.C., in May 2012 to devote himself to the nascent Dream Defenders. He is now employed by Service Employees International Union as a field organizer, the only member of the Dream Defenders who receives a salary, he said. The rest of the Dream Defenders — as many as 250 have turned out for an event — are volunteers, Agnew said. SEIU, which has actively supported numerous liberal causes, including the controversial voter-registration organization ACORN, is not the only group coming to the aid of the Dream Defenders. The Florida NAACP has provided support, as has the local branch, and the Advancement Project, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization, has brought in an attorney and a communications director to assist Agnew and other leaders with the Dream Defenders. A number of local individuals also have stepped in to provide food and blankets for the all-night vigils on the concrete and marble floors of the Capitol.”

      These organizations supply the financial support…do you think they have a stake in the group…it appears that way…

      One more thing, Dream Defenders asks for donations on their site…where do these donations go? What are they used for?

    • Shocked, I tell you... says:

      @ Sherry: I don’t believe the comments about working were meant to be rude or racist, Sherry. I don’t know anybody who could afford to go to school and not hold a job. You were very fortunate that it wasn’t necessary for you to work.

  28. Tator says:

    I believe Jesse got his degree in language communications from ” Marble Mouth Institute of Chicago” ! He received straight A’s.

  29. Flagler Citizen says:

    If the goal of people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson is to be the mouthpiece for the country as it pertains to civil right issues, why is it that the only time that we hear from them is when it is an African American who is allegedly affected? Where is the outrage in the recent bus beating by three African American youths of the white student in the Tampa area who was left with two black eyes and a broken arm? The white students “crime”…reporting that one of the blsck students was pressuring him into purchasing marijuana. I truly believ that true injustices need to be reported and investigated but if Mr. Sharpton and Jackson want to gain any real credibility from a larger segment of the population, have them stand up for injustice regardless of the color of the people involved.

    • Ben Dover says:

      Al Sharpton is a racist through and through, hes a criminal that got his ministers license off the computer ,he should be in jail for dealing coke ,FBI had him on tape setting up the buy , but he got tipped off they were feds and somehow slipped out of that one ,tax evasion , he got that girl to lie and blame a assistant district attorney and a police officer of raping and sodomizing a young black girl he was prolly having sex with himself, sued for defamation of character and was ordered to pay 89 000 in damages , but like his taxes he refused , when they were about to arrest him , hisdrug buddies paid it for him, he is garbage , cant believe Jessie Jackson associates with him, but then birds of a feather flock together.

  30. Shocked, I tell you... says:

    I used to love watching Jesse Jackson speak to a crowd back in the 70’s and 80’s. Anybody remember, “I AM SOMEBODY!” He was the best. He cared about these kids and it showed. He was wonderful and inspiring.

    I don’t recognize the man he has become and can’t bear to watch the hate he stirs up now.

  31. Sherry Epley says:

    Thank you CCG for verifying that the Dream Defenders are primarily student volunteers. It’s great to see that they are getting organized by some who went to college and that they are looking into some funding so that they can really have an impact!

    • CCG says:

      I guess you missed the leader is a paid community organizer. The sheeple follow right along. I think the community organizer accomplished what he set out to do. The democrats can now say they voted to have a special session and those obstructionist (republicans-racists) stopped it. See how the game is played. It’s not about SYG, never was, it’s about the vote.

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