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Jackson Reflects on Voter Suppression in 2016 Election

Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist and former presidential candidate, believes Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election because of African-American voter suppression. The Electoral College, he said, has roots in slavery and was created to count slaves as less than people. And its original intentions have lasting effects, he believes.

Jackson was the keynote speaker at the Second Memorial Lecture Commemorating Rev. Raymond Helmick, S.J. on Saturday night. During his speech, Jackson touched on issues ranging from the election to the Super Bowl.

“As hurt as the Falcons were that night, there were no fights, there was no one throwing helmets at each other, they shook hands. What enabled them to lose with dignity?” he asked, answering, “Whenever the playing field is even, and the rules are public … and the score is transparent, we will accept the outcome.”

Jackson’s words throughout the rest of the night focused on this theme of peaceful and fair resolution, and he pointed to the late Rev. Ray Helmick, S.J., for evidence of peacemaking.

“Peacemakers are in the bridge-building business,” he said. “Father Ray saw walls as sin and estrangement. He saw bridges as salvation. Sometimes we become so blinded by arrogance we can’t see. But, Father Helmick sought to always see both sides of the picture.”

Jackson gave advice to people seeking to resolve conflicts in the world today. He discussed his stance on international conflicts and America’s “no-talk” policy with some countries. According to Jackson, if there’s no talk, there are no results.

He also talked about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the role he feels the U.S. should be taking.

“Our job is not to choose sides, it should be to reconcile sides,” he said.

Jackson offered advice to people trying to follow his legacy or follow the legacy of other civil rights activists.

“Know when you step on this journey, it didn’t start with you,” he said. “You are joining a train moving toward justice sometimes derailed. If you’re real smart, you get protection from those who’ve gone before you.”

He also encouraged people to listen to the struggles of other groups and come together to fight for justice. He specifically cited Chinese and Japanese exclusion from the U.S. and the Holocaust as narratives one must find a common thread that connects them.

Jackson was disappointed by the 2016 election because he said not enough people went out and voted. He offered a passionate stance on voting rights and how he felt citizens of targeted minorities are being stripped of their right to vote due to strict voting procedures.

He said Hillary Clinton lost because of the voter suppression of African-Americans. Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, New York, and California are “targeted zones” because they only allow one day to vote. He also said that Clinton lost North Carolina because of a marginalized, stolen vote.

Jackson also mentioned the Electoral College as a contentious subject since its role in the most recent election.

“People said Hillary lost because of the Electoral College,” he said. “No one connected that College with slavery—it is rooted in slavery. It was meant to throw off the numbers to count slaves as less than people.”

On the last subject of his 1984 and 1988 presidential runs, he said he ran for a certain reason, and that the country may be different today if he had won.

“I ran for president to change the system, change the rules of the system,” he said.

He ended his speech by offering words of wisdom to those trying to fight for justice.

“We must be willing to jump in the water,” he said. “Deep water does not drown you. You drown when you stop kicking.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

April 23, 2017