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What If Jesse Jackson Had Been the First Black President?

Posted on Jul 5, 2011
U.S. News and World Report / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

A group of rhetoric scholars once got together and decided that Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Democratic National Convention speech is the 12th most significant address of the 20th century, behind the words of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, among others.

Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988. He didn’t stand a chance, but listening to the civil rights leader’s call for “a more humane, just and peaceful course” below, this blogger can’t help but daydream of the world that might have been.  —PZS

Jesse Jackson 1984 Democratic National Convention Speech:

Jesse Jackson 1984 Campaign Speech:

Jesse Jackson After Obama’s Election:




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By Salome, July 11, 2011 at 5:52 am Link to this comment
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Having paid more attention to the political process since the election of Pres. Obama, my conclusion is that a Jackson, or a Nader, would have been stymied, and neutered, without a humongous political apparatus behind him.  One lone wolf is totally insufficient to reckon with corporate elites, an organized war machine, lobbyists, and the majority of the citizenry who are so apathetic, and so uneducated about power, and the difference that it makes who wields that power, they don’t even bother to vote.

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By Anarcissie, July 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

I heard him speak publicly ‘live’ (that is, he was there) in New York City on two occasions, hence my opinion.  Live public speeches do not arrive with titles and I forgot to bring my public speech tape recorder.  I suppose there might be something on YouTube.

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By EmileZ, July 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

Great speeches by Jesse Jackson.

You might consider continually posting great, not so great, and abbhorent speeches etc. for our edification.

It couldn’t hurt.

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By Doug, July 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
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Great, a racist comment, and an implication that Jesse was some sort of state stooge. The armchair “left” is terrible.

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By Anarcissie, July 7, 2011 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Once again the monarchical note:  ‘If only we had this great king, instead of that one.’

If somehow Jesse Jackson had become president with everything else remaining the same, obviously he would have to have fallen in line or he would have been removed.

Nevertheless, he was a great orator, one of the greatest practitioners of that dying art, equal to that other master Martin Luther King.

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By SarcastiCanuck, July 7, 2011 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
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You should of made Muhammed Ali the first black president because there are a lot of people in government who could use a good ass whooping.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, July 7, 2011 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

Obama is a pretty and packaged product, easily consumed and palatable…. born from stock whose recent ancestry did not experience slavery nor the demons of dimensional madness stemming from that experience.

Jesse is a product of that madness… and of the further design of direct depravity assaulted on the lower classes, the immigrants and the non-white stock of economic slaves… a clear reject of the hegemony.

To think that any man could sit in that seat of most vocal representative without approval or granting of the hegemony is believing the media propaganda and social conditioning.

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By Cashaww, July 7, 2011 at 5:21 am Link to this comment
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O God, Jackson.  This man would have been even less effective than Obama.

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By zonth_zonth, July 6, 2011 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

Idealistic to a fault.  Corrupted by power and position and lost all objectivity.

Doesnt really matter if this bafoon was president or not.  Corporate hegemony controls all bafoons, especially ones with WEAK WILLS.

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By Grousefeather, July 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment
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The more salient question is: What if Buckwheat had been elected our first black president?

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By omygodnotagain, July 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

He talked the talk, but never walked the walk, in a sense Barack Obama is his direct descendent

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By A. Benway, July 6, 2011 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
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“What if…” Well, reading “An Act of State” about the MLK hit - it’s been to court you know - the government people assigned to murder King were advised that “friendlies are not wearing ties”. They had suborned spies inside the King entourage. Jessie was not wearing a tie. I’ll leave the conclusion to you…

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By PatrickHenry, July 6, 2011 at 3:45 am Link to this comment

He would have been the first impeached black president.

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By ApprxAm, July 6, 2011 at 1:51 am Link to this comment

Reagan or Jackson.  Both sound absolutely frightening to my ears.  But I bet a mass movement of the first one hundred days would’ve been to condemn and claim his place of birth, Greenville, S.C., no longer part of the United States of America around the time of his birth.

Ed Koch & Lee Atwater probably would’ve teamed up and started the Tea Party two decades sooner.

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