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Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Transcript from Feb. 1, 1999

Timehost: Tonight we launch the first in a series of TIME chats dedicated to Black History Month. Our guest, Jesse Jackson, Jr., is a man who has been involved in the civil rights struggle basically since he was in diapers!

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: (Laughs)

Timehost: After serving as National Field Director for the Rainbow Coalition, he's now taken his agenda for change to Congress, where he sits as the representative for the Second Congressional District of Illinois. Welcome, Rep. Jackson!

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Thank you very much. It's an honor to be here tonight.

Timehost: Let's go to our first question...

wibbs_99 asks: Rep. Jackson, you recently stated that the same southern-based elitist economic and political forces that tried to oust Andrew Johnson are now at work on Clinton. Could you explain what you meant?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: Thank you very much for your question. At www.jessejacksonjr.org, I have an article entitled "Underlying the Impeachment Crisis." There I pose a thesis that African-American history provides some insight into the current crisis. Abraham Lincoln was reelected in 1864. In an effort to reach out to the South he appointed Andrew Johnson, a Southern Confederate sympathizer as his vice president. President Johnson was fundamentally against the reconstruction efforts of building a big central government that could provide economic security for all Americans. Republicans at that time were upset with Southern reentry into the Union and investigated Johnson and used the excuse of his firing a Cabinet secretary as the basis for impeaching him. But they were really concerned about his lack of attention to reconstruction. In 1936, in FDR's second campaign, African Americans moved from the then Republican Party to the Democratic Party where their economic, political and social interests have vested ever since. In 1992 and 1996, those political, social and cultural interests vested in Bill Clinton. The Judiciary Committee, made up of mostly Southern ideologues used Monica Lewinsky as an excuse to go after the President because like Lincoln, Clinton wanted and wants a government that provide health care, economic security for all, which the states' rights forces in the Congress continue to fight against 130 years after the Civil War.

lepaord asks: Do you think the president will be impeached?

Timehost: I think what the questioner meant was "will be convicted" by the Senate...

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: The President was impeached by the House of Representatives and history will forever note that Clinton was impeached. It is clear, however, that there are insufficient numbers to remove Clinton in the Senate. I watched the Super Bowl with President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton at Camp David and their spirits are very high and they are determined to do the people's work.

MaryMargo_39730 asks: Do you think that what Pres. Clinton did was wrong?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: I believe, as most Americans believe, that the President's actions were deplorable and beneath the dignity of the President. I also believe that I was one of the few Democrats in the House who called for the President to tell the truth about his testimony under oath (see the USA Today article at www.jessejacksonjr.org on the date of the impeachment). However, I do not believe that the President's behavior reaches the Constitutional standard for removing him from office.

CollegeChatter asks: Do you approve of the President's idea to risk social security money in the stock market?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: I do not. And he and I discussed this over breakfast this morning. At www.jessejacksonjr.org, I wrote and article called "What Social Security Crisis?". In this position paper, as I argued at breakfast with the President this morning, there are two groups of people in the private marketplace, winners and losers. Social Security was designed as a societal remedy for senior citizens to assure them that they will not have to live in poverty. The article at my web site lays out this argument, I think, in a compelling way. Please do me a favor and join my e-mail distribution list while you are there.

Ishan_1999 asks: Do you believe we have seen the end of the Republican Party?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: I do not believe we've seen the end of tyranny either in the Republican Party or manifestations of it in the Democratic Party. The price we pay for our freedom, someone once said, is eternal vigilance.

jessica3317 asks: Today is the anniversary of the first of the days when the African-American students began protesting at the lunch counter in Woolworth's. Do you feel that those protests made a lasting impact?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: It did in my life. I attended North Carolina A&T; State U in Greensboro N.C. Where the sit-ins at that Woolworth's took place. They were actually A&T; students who began the protests. My father became president of NC A&T; student body and continued those protests two years after they had begun. American history can be divided into three categories. From 1619 to 1859, I call it the tremor. Between 1860 and 1865, I call it the great quake. 1866 to the impeachment of Bill Clinton are all aftershocks from the Great War that set our nation on a path to reconstruction. We have yet to reconstruct America for all Americans regardless of their color, when you look at our education system, from health care for all to affordable housing for all. Once we have eliminated economic anxiety issues for all Americans, all Americans can then proclaim, rich and poor, black and white: "We are free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

bean_in_swphillyhouse asks: Congressman, what is your position on black oppression (namely in the inner cities) ?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: If I understand the question correctly, the inner cities, presently, do not have the same kind of economic investment as the suburbs have. For the last 18 years, the district that I represent has had negative economic growth of -2 percent. Some of my colleagues are posting economic growth amongst their constituents upwards of around 18 or 20 percent. If we can grow the economy with balanced growth for all, leaving no American behind, unemployment, crime, drug abuse, prostitution, drugs sales and distributions, would be less oppressive as a form of escape.

babkababy asks: What is the single biggest problem facing the African American community today? What's the solution?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Dr.King once said that we are inextricably linked in a common bond of mutuality. A famous poet, Done, once said, "No man is an island entire of itself." Every man is a part of the continent, a piece of the main....In other words, our country is experiencing unparalleled economic growth in history, but not everyone is participating. The second biggest problem is getting African Americans, whites, male and female, who want to make opportunity and growth available for all to sign my distribution list on my web site at www.jessejacksonjr.org so that I can update them on how we are going to create growth for everybody.

feline27 asks: Mr. Jackson do you think historical black colleges are receiving the same funding as white colleges?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: They are not. I was just appointed to the labor HHS subcommittee on appropriations and if I remain on this subcommittee over the course of my Congressional career, I hope to increase this funding. But the only way you will know about this is if you become a frequent visitor to www.jessejacksonjr.org.

BUSTA_BALLA asks: Hey Mr. Jackson,I admire you a lot as a role model and I think I'm the only kid who looks up to politicians. So, how do you handle racism and what can we do to prevent it? Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr: This is a very difficult question. Tomorrow I will speak to the State Department as its Black History Month speaker. And directly and indirectly, I will have to address this subject matter. Racism must be seen in four different ways. But before that, there is no problem with race. The problem is RACISM. Number one: It must be seen as a philosophical concept where through philosophy one justifies the superiority of one's race. Number two: Behavior. Burning a cross or a crucifix or swastika in someone's yard. Number three: Prejudice. Prejudging someone, an individual, based on a group stereotype. And number four, and probably the most difficult: Institutional. Where there're all white guys on all the news programs or in Congress, or in the Senate or are Presidents of the U.S. and we are not actively fighting to change that. Thank you NTAL ALIMASY for joining my distribution list.

mustang1_1 asks: Congressman Jackson, what would you tell young kids to think about most in life and what to do in life to succeed? By the way, we're in night school now and everyone is looking around the computer, so please answer.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Thank you for your questions. This is a question I have given a lot of thought to and have even given commencement speeches in high school and colleges. It is a mathematical formula. Success equals opportunity plus preparation. Success does not equal opportunity. The doors to success can be wide open, but if you are too drunk or too high to stagger through them, you will not make it. Success does not equal preparation. You can study as hard as you want to, and you must, but if there is no opportunity, you will join the ranks of the unemployed. Only when your preparation through skills, character, education, come together with growing opportunity for all, can one claim to be successful. I have applied this same concept to Michael Jordan. On any given day, not only is he extremely prepared as an offensive basketball player -- whenever the opportunity presents itself, he scores. That's how we measure it.

LanceMan20 asks: Mr. Jackson. I met you about two years ago at a cancer foundation fund raiser. Thank you for the advice you personally gave me. I have used it everyday since then. Thank you very much once again. L. Gordon, Houston, Texas.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: I hope you will all join my e-mail distribution list. I want to thank network 21 who e-mailed at least 1,000 people today letting them know of my appearance on Yahoo!. I hope all who are participating in this chat will come to my site and join my e-mail list so that we might be connected on a regular basis: www.jessejacksonjr.org

AntonSolo asks: Congressman Jackson, has being the son of such an icon in the civil rights movement helped or hindered your personal and professional life?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: I have inherited my father's friends and his detractors. But here is the key: I have earned neither. And so I work very hard for my father's friends to become my friends. And I hope through my service in the Congress, the detractors will come to appreciate my work. In a strange way, some of my father's detractors have developed a new appreciation of him because of his children.

SNTR2BE asks: Congressman, who, if anyone, should/do you see leading the charge for the African-American people?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: When I wrote the article on my web site titled "Underlying the Impeachment Crisis," I sincerely believed that because of our unique experience in America, our history provides us with insight on how Democrats and Republicans behave at any hour in our current history. Our community need only embrace what God has given us and with that insight I believe we can lead everybody. ks4d9er asks: Mr. Jackson what your goals as a congressman?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: To create an economy with balanced growth for all, leaving no American behind. If during the Korean War we can go back and find every American left behind, if during the Vietnam War we can find every American left behind, if during the Gulf War we committed ourselves to leaving no American in the field, then during peacetime why are families homeless, why are we fighting over lunch programs for children? During a peacetime economy with balanced growth, we must leave no American behind.

rcbythesea asks: Have you decided if you will run for presidency?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Let me first begin by thanking Jonasha Mackey for joining my distribution list at www.jessejacksonjr.org/distlist.htm. I ran for public office because I wanted to help people in my district. I've been here for only three years and what I have found is that there are people who need help everywhere. I do not know what the future holds. I really want to have a family one day and I'm not sure I want to raise them in the public eye. However, the quickest way to find out is by joining my distribution list at www.jessejacksonjr.org. I should also tell you that I despise raising money to run for public office. But I was fortunate enough to develop a web site where contributions can be accepted securely. My site, actually pages me personally when contributions are received and I always call people back within 15 minutes.

Nice_Girl_Forever asks: Mr. Jesse Jackson, do you know if your father will run for president again?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: I have encouraged him to do so because I believe he represents a clear vision that is inclusive of all Americans.

jessica3317 asks: Would you rather see an African-American president or a woman president?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Color and gender are insignificant compared to direction. I would rather have nine white guys who would render a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education that established the principle of equal protection under the law for everybody than today's Supreme Court with two women, an African American and right wing ideologues who deny people their basic human rights.

Jack_Kennedy_ asks: Do you think Speaker Hastert will help lead the House in a more bi-partisan fashion? Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr: I hope so. He will have a very difficult job before him, his predecessors have done great damage to the cause of a more perfect union.

Timehost: Our time is just about up, so we'll end with this comment from a fan of yours in the audience tonight:

onelargecutie27 asks: Hi, Mr.Jackson. Just want to say how much I admire you and your father. Thanks for everything you have done and are still doing.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Thank you very much for your support. How can I reach you? The only way I can reach you, I think, is at www.jessejacksonjr.org. This has been a lot of fun. Thank you very much!

Timehost: Thank you for joining us! We enjoyed it a lot!

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