Jackson Heats Up Harvard

Katia Savchuk

Jesse Jackson spoke at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics yesterday. In light of the upcoming election, Jackson spoke about President Bush and gay marriage as well as affirmative action.

Speaking from the sidelines of the impending presidential election, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson urged Southern white voters last night to put aside “racial fears” and elect a Democrat to replace President Bush.

In his speech at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, Jackson said Southern voters, who offered Bush overwhelming support in 2000, had since been left out to dry by the White House.

“They got a tax cut, a jobs cut and a benefits cut,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s remarks came on the heels of Bush’s cameo appearance Sunday at the Daytona 500, where the president courted a largely white and Southern constituency of “NASCAR dads.”

But in an interview prior to his speech yesterday, Jackson downplayed the president’s support among white male Southerners.

“I’m a NASCAR dad,” Jackson said. “I like car races. NASCAR dads that I know like two things: they like car races and they like jobs and benefits. With Bush, they get half of that.”

Bill Shack of Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition last year called NASCAR “the last bastion of white supremacy,” but the reverend distanced himself from those comments yesterday.

In his signature lilting tone, Jackson promised “voter registration and racial reconciliation” in the South while stressing the importance of capital as the final frontier of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Wall Street was built on the African slave trade,” Jackson said as he called for more black and Hispanic fund managers at the nation’s largest investment firms.

“Harvard has a roughly $20-billion endowment and no black or brown managers,” Jackson said prior to his speech.

The reverend said he focused on Harvard’s dearth of minority fund managers in a meeting yesterday with University President Lawrence H. Summers.

“Many whites manage money like one-eyed quarterbacks,” Jackson said. “They can’t see the whole field.”

The meeting came two years after the reverend questioned Summers’ commitment to affirmative action at a press conference in Cambridge.

“Harvard must be a beacon of light for the nation, not a shadow of doubt,” Jackson told The Crimson in 2002.

But Jackson said yesterday he was satisfied with the University’s affirmative-action policy and focused his attention instead on minority fund managers.

“The next stage of our struggle is not just to have our share of students and faculty or our share of administrators, but our share of capital,” Jackson said.