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In accepting a Los Angeles Urban Issues Forum award for his 50 years as a leading civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson urged the black community to get involved with the Occupy Movement, saying, "Whenever the Freedom Train comes to town, get onboard."

jesse jackson

"While we have an African American president, we're all still in the hall in every major category," he continued, pointing out that there's not one major building in Downtown LA that's owned by blacks.

anthony asadullah samad

Anthony Asadullah Samad

"We've become insult-proof," he said, adding that African Americans have endured so much that they've developed protective defense mechanisms. "But sometimes we need to be insulted, sometimes we need to be so insulted that we disrupt things."

“In this new game, we have been too silent,” Jackson said, acknowledging the perception, at least, that people of color are not well represented at many Occupy encampments around the country, including in Los Angeles. “Blacks have the power to change this situation. If every Black person who has a student loan debt, credit card debt, and no job were marching we could transform the financial crisis in this country.”

Jackson reminded his overwhelmingly Black audience that the goal of the Civil Rights movement wasn't just freedom.

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"Freedom was a prerequisite for equality," he said. "Freedom is imprecise. It can just mean the absence of chains. Equality can be measured."

Led by LA writer and professor Anthony Samad, the Urban Issues Forum meets most months, usually either at the California African American Museum or the Staples Center, as it did last week for Reverend Jackson.

Turning to the coming election season, Jackson indicated that Democrats are doing politics, while Republicans are doing ideology.

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"They want states rights so they can weaken the federal government," he said. "Watch what happens to women's rights, to civil rights, to the right to vote if they win."

"But Democrats cannot win Occupy votes unless they address Occupy issues," he concluded.

Dick Price
Editor, LA Progressive