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‘If so, bring back the draft’

By Chinta Strausberg

On a teleconference call where he spoke on a myriad of topics including the 43rd annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition convention theme, “A Quest for Equality and Peace,” scheduled to kick off Saturday,” Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Thursday recommended there be no “boots on the ground” even though Sunni militants are gaining control of major cities.

Jackson made his comments two days before his convention kicks off 10 a.m., Saturday, June 28, 2014, at the Rainbow PUSH Headquarters, 930 E. 50th St.. It will through Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Jackson will conduct plenary sessions, workshops and special events that are scheduled for that Monday.

His comments came just hours before President Barack Obama announce that he is sending 300 advisers to war-torn Iraq to help that government’s troops and to also set up joint operation centers needed to ward off Sunni extremists.

Obama made it clear that he did not need congressional approval to send the advisers, and he promised to keep them apprised of his actions.  “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq” but that they “will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists.”

When asked by this reporter if we should have boots on the ground in Iraq, Jackson said, “I would not recommend that we have boots hit the ground. We should move to the draft…it shouldn’t be just poor people on the ground…. I hope there are no boots on the ground. It must be equally shared.”

Jackson said, “The impact of Mr. Bush planning invading Iraq to get heads up on the oil prior to 9/11 was a devastating plan. Colin Powell objected to it…. We broke international law…with a preemptive strike and tore the country up….”

“The architects of the illegal invasion and occupation of the war are now the architects of reactions to their failed strategy,” said Jackson. “Barack could not stop that war. I think he was right by trying to de-escalate it by pulling out the troops….”

When this reporter asked if he would talk about the violence in Chicago and other urban communities across the nation, Jackson said, “In Chicago, we have three Chicago’s.” Jackson said unemployment is high in the black communities but “on the North Side of town where unemployment is less than four percent.” “Obviously those who have the most economic security have the most balanced communities. There must be some real focus on job infusion,” he said.

“Guns in, drugs in, jobs out,” Jackson said citing a huge number of jobs there were lost in Cook County. “That’s a formula for disaster.” Noting the number of shootings that are going on in Chicago, Jackson said there is a need for a trauma center on the South Side. Reflecting on the number of closed hospitals, closed trauma centers and closed 50 schools, closed grocery stores, closed drug stores, Jackson said that is “stacking a lot of pain in those zones.”

Reminded about his past call for a Marshall Plan, Jackson said there needs to be one for youth. Pointing to the 10,000 detainees at the Cook County jail including 5,000 he said are “mentally challenged. Most of them are non-violent first-time offenders. It is costing $55,000 to keep them there….”

Jackson said there should be an investment in “liberating them” while focusing on teaching them trades. “There is no present plan for urban/rural construction.”

Asked about the minister’s luncheon, Jackson said he, former Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., and his wife, Edwina Moss, and Rev. Al Sharpton will have a round table discussion about the legacy of the civil rights movement achieved 50-years ago “and where we are 50-years later.”

Jackson said they will be discussing how “today’s challenges threatened to undermine” those achievements including the explosion of the prison industrial complex he says has reduced the number of voters.

When asked about Republican schemes to suppress the vote like the recent case in Ohio where a federal judge ordered that state’s elections chief to restore the final three days of in-person voting, Rev. Jackson said, rural people do not have the ID the Republicans are imposing as “voter schemes.”

Asked what is he doing to help get the vote out, Jackson said, “We have a Department of Justice now who has the resources to track these schemes of voter suppression…, he said noting that Eric Holder is both capable and a “sensitive” person to monitor these attempts to suppress the vote in certain communities.

“But, Democrats must have a plan that will inspire people to vote,” warned Jackson. “When we bail out the banks without bailing out the homeowners…,” many people lose hope and don’t come out to vote. Jackson said leaders must give people a reason to cast their vote.

On Saturday, June 28th, Jackson will be holding a reunion with those participating in his 1984 presidential campaign and man social issues of the day. In 1984. Jackson said alternates from the campaign would be present focusing on “what we achieved then and the unfinished business.”

Jackson racked up 3.5 million votes and registered more than 1 million new voters and in 1988 he won 7 million votes and boasts of registering 2 million voters.

On July 2nd, the last day of the convention, which Jackson said is the actual date 50-years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he will pay homage to the achievements made. Back then; PUSH’s goal was “to raise the political consciousness, much more registration, build coalitions, bring in more officials somewhat culminating in the White House in 2008,” he told reporters.

But Jackson also spoke about the unfinished business leaders are faced with addressing like the Voter Rights Act he says is “under severe attack…. We are fighting for an amendment to the Constitution to make voting a fundamental right, not just a states right because if it remains a state right, and the states are in charge of it, you will have 50 separate and unequal elections controlled by each state….” Jackson said that determined the 2000 presidential election “when they stopped the count and determined the outcome in 2004 when they froze the machines.”

“While the Confederates states were all solid right wing Republican Houses and Senates, they have put forth again the Confederate agenda the same agenda we fought in 1954…. The difference is that at that time they were called southern segregationists Democrats but after the 1965 Voting Rights Act, they changed parties. They ceased to be southern segregationists Democrats and became Republican conservatives,” charged Jackson. “They changed names, but they didn’t change the basic agenda.”

And, that agenda, Jackson said, included “making voting more difficult” pointing to several states engaged in voter suppression tactics. He talked about “all kinds of manipulations now taking place triggered by a suit filed out of Shelton County Alabama….

“We have a tremendous number of attacks on the voting rights act in an attempt not so much to eliminate it but to dilute the vote by using gerrymandering, stacking, annexation…schemes,” he said.

“They are systematically anti-poor sending resource money back, rejecting government federal money like in South Carolina” headed by Republican Nikki Haley where Jackson said she’s given back $12 million of Medicaid money and $1 billion in education money.” He said Georgia too has rejected $ billion and $100 million Medicaid and education funds also earmarked for the poor.

“But, they are not against money (from the government) for new airports …not against more money to subsidize businesses,” he said. “They have more military bases…the same basic Confederate agenda we fought 50-years ago….”

“If the governor’s if they can’t block school doors, they should not be able to block medical doors today” including locking doors to access to education. “In spite of the $2 million shortfall, the state rejected $1 billion in federal money. If the governor’s can’t block school doors, they should not be able to block medical door or medical doors to access to education. That’s a challenge to the administration,” he said.

On Sunday, June 29th, Jackson will focus on immigration reform. Having just left Dallas, Texas where he met with a number of youth who had been driven across the border. Jackson said there were about 47,000 of them and they had been driven across the border in south Texas by “gangsters who abducted them and drove them across the border.

“Whether we are dealing with the children driven across the border in Texas or the abducted children in Nigeria or those who have been sent back from Haiti,” these are the issues we will be discussing on Sunday afternoon.

On Monday, June 30th, Jackson will be holding the women’s luncheon focusing on gender equity for women. Jackson has 169 students PUSH is supporting in college and will be handing out more scholarships that night.

On Tuesday morning, Jackson will be meeting with organized labor and discussing collective bargaining. He will also discuss a growing number of church and home foreclosures. “They will be meeting with bankers and churches on that day.”

Jackson will also be meeting on “life beyond the playing field” with NAACP officials including Oscar Robertson, “The Big O,” and former professional basketball player Spencer Haywood.”

Jackson will also talk about gender equality saying if they are not equally paid they cannot take care of their homes, which he said is “fundamentally wrong.”

Wednesday, July 3rd, is business day. See link for list of speakers. http://rainbowpush.org/page/-/images/43rd_AnnualConvention/RPC%20Convention%20Program%206.16.14.pdf

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