It’s been 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. One of his colleagues at that event was the Rev. Jessie Jackson, Sr. Rev. Jackson has continued speaking and advocating for that dream of “uniting people on common ground across race, culture, class, gender, and belief.” This idea of interlocking destinies was presented during his plenary speech at the National NOW Conference held in Chicago on July 5, 2013.
I was in the room during Rev. Jackson’s speech and took several video clips with my smart phone. One of them came out clear enough to post on this blog. So after getting back home, participating in a family reunion, and then spending a week and a half looking for a replacement car for our 253,000+ mile vehicle, I was able to upload the video and present it to you.
Video of Jessie Jackson at the 2013 National NOW Conference in Chicago, IL
The following quotes, along with the time tags are some of the best comments, IMHO, that Jessie Jackson made during this speech discussing the intersection between the women’s movement and the civil rights movement, which at 13:59 into this video, Jackson calls a “sharing of interlocking destinies.” He started off by discussing these Interlocking Destinies and shared rights.
3:10 Fifty years after the “I Have a Dream” speech, we still need the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment].
3:52 The right to vote should not be a state right. It’s a constitutional right for everyone.
4:10 Every child should have access to have access to high-quality public education.
4:20 No matter if you are in Mississippi, Maine, or in California, we live under one flag; you should have equal protection under the law.
5:52 Our goal is to learn to live together.
6:20 Civil rights cannot be another word for “black” and NOW cannot be another word for “white women.” Black women, in big numbers, should be members of NOW now!
7:00 We must pull down the walls [of cultural resistance] that leave us in the shadow of fear…. When the walls come down, we can all grow bigger, better, stronger with greater productivity. When the walls come down.
9:00 There’s a new South today that can have the Super Bowl, CNN, high-tech universities [showing that we are] learning to live together. Yet…
At this point, Rev. Jackson starts talking about some of the interlocking issues of racism and sexism still present that need to be addressed in the United States:
9:56 It’s interesting to me that during the Republican Primary, in my [home] state [South Carolina] with an open primary, not one candidate went to a single school or church of the black community. Not one! 33% black. Not only did they not go, the media did not challenge them to go. This instance [of the] reinforcement of apartheid was natural because it’s [still] normal.
Jackson then spends a bit of time framing these interlocking destinies and the problem of economics and access to justice. He gave several examples of this framework. The one that resonated with me was the one about the automobile industry, considering that my car had died the weekend before the conference and knowing that I would soon be car shopping. He said,
12:38 What does it mean that there are 21,000 automobile dealerships? 200 black-owned. Almost no women. Pepsi: one black franchise. Coke: zero. When you go get educated. You get your masters and PhD degrees. Business people, you cannot buy one of these franchises, by the way, because they were sold under the laws of perpetuity. Those that got the territories [back in the day] have the territory eternally. So it’s not about getting on the ball field. If you get on the ball field, there are no balls left…. Even money can’t buy them.
And finally, just as the battery in my smart phone died, he ended on a high note using history to look towards the future. He said that as in the past, we have not and can never be at loss for continuing to advocate for reform. This is what I caught on the video as it beeped “bye-bye:”
13:59 The agenda of race and gender equality are inextricably bound. We share interlocking destinies. African-Americans won the right to vote in 1879 – 15th Amendment. Women in 1920 – 19th Amendment. We [finally] got the right for blacks to vote in the Deep South in 1965 [with the Voting Rights Act] while women got the right to serve on juries in 1967 – 2 years later [as a result of the US Supreme Court decision in Taylor v. Louisiana]. Eighteen year olds got the right to vote in 1970; [before that] those [young people] serving in Vietnam could not vote…