Updated: November 10, 2012 1:19PM
The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday said that President Obama’s reelection was “a great victory,” but that it would be incomplete with a reconstruction of urban America and an investment in the communities where the blacks who voted overwhelmingly for the president live.
“We’re happy and full of pride,” in the president’s reelection, Jackson told the crowd at the Saturday morning forum at Rainbow/PUSH headquarters, 930 E. 50th St., “but our houses remain raggedy … our schools remain closed.”
Despite attempts at voter suppression in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, Jackson said, blacks turned out en masse to vote, enduring waits that stretched into hours in many places. “We waited, we voted, we believed,” Jackson said. “Now we want to get well.
“We voted early, we voted long. Our votes won,” he said.
Rev. Jackson, who spoke longer, louder, and more forcefully than he has in some time at the Saturday morning Rainbow/PUSH meeting, asked the crowd, “What do we want? We want, we want, we want, we deserve, we deserve ... a return on our investment.
“What’s good for us is good for everybody. What’s good for blacks is good for everybody.,” he said. “We bled too much, we died too young, we cried too much, we prayed too long, now we want a return on our investment.”
Referring to those voter suppression efforts, he said, “these acts of meanness had unintended consequences.” Rather than keeping blacks and Latinos away from the polls, voter ID measures and the curtailing of access to the voting booths made people more determined to vote. “Suppression became stimulation and people fought back,” he said.
“We fought back,” and the battle was won, but the war still remains, he said. “If we vote and don’t bargain we get nothing. A Jacuzzi filled with stagnant water will not get you well,” Jackson said. “You have to stir the water.”
Jackson said blacks, who voted for Barack Obama for state senator, for U.S. Senator, and now twice as President of the United States, should demand, bargain, and march if necessary, for an end to “patterns of race discrimination, (for) our share of jobs. We want faster public transportation to connect us to where the jobs are.”
He said black American also needs “access to capital,” noting, “It’s cruel to say. ‘jump in the pool,’ when there is no water. “
He also called for “fair trade,” a “domestic trade zone. We need a domestic OPEC,” he said. “In Chicago, for example, there are 100,000 vacant homes or abandoned lots; 40,000 in Baltimore. If we were to rebuild 25 percent, if we take down the boards and put in window panes, fix the broken sidewalks, cut the grass, fix the roofing, we’d create more jobs than there are people, just rebuilding where we live.”
Jackson said, “there must be a plan for reconstruction” of urban America.
Saying that automobile companies and banks got bailouts, “we’re the people who provided the votes -- we want to be bailed out. We need jobs, education, healthcare now. If we can be targeted for voter registration and voter turnout, target us for reconstruction, now.
“We are the new mainstream,” Jackson said. “We are the America of shared hopes and shared dreams. We have the power, we have the votes.
“We waited, we voted, we believed, now we want to get well.” He then asked the crowd, “Do you want to get well? Are you willing to fight to get well?
“It’s time to sing a new song, of joy and hope,” Jackson said.
“It’s time to march again. March for healthcare, march for jobs. When we march great things come our way. “