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Rev. Jesse Jackson

[applause]

Let me express, thank you. Let me express my thanks for such a kind and generous introduction. For such a warm and exciting reception. Your energy, your enthusiasm is contagious. But, even as you cheer with collective voices of determination, you must know that you have the power to change the course of our nation for the better. You have the power. If you are a giant with a grasshopper complex, though you have the power you will not believe that you, in fact, have the power. We the people have the power, and the change weíve seen in my lifetime, never came top down, it always came bottom up. It never came your house down. It came my house to your house up.

The power is not in the ticket. The power is in the picket. When we march and fight, we always win. We have to march together. [applause]

In our struggles across the years against racism, against sexism, against anti-Semitism, against gay bashing or Arab bashing, one thing I have found to be worse than those evils are racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, gay bashing, has been cynicism. For cynicism is when you internalize the problem and begin to act it out. Itís when you lose the will to fight back. Itís when you surrender and hang your harps on the willows.

We the people have the power to fight back if we, in fact, engage in struggle. Iíll speak to the convention later on this day, and Iíll call for a moratorium on the death penalty. [applause]. We must stop the killing. [applause]

The reason I was at the convention in Philadelphia, as well as here. I spoke at the rallies for Mumia Abu-Jamal in Philadelphia, as well as here, [applause] The reason I was with Brother Sancofer in Texas, I believe we have the moral imperative to stop the death machine. Those who would dare call themselves Christians, have an even greater obligation. After all, Jesus was born under a death warrant, and killed by the Roman government.

We who dare chose the higher law of love, must not chose Roman law. We must stop killing, and start saving. Start redeeming, start healing, start building. [applause]. I come to this rally because I believe it is the combination of agitation on the outside and legislation on the inside. There is no real legislation without agitation, and agitation must have some political objective to change legal conditions. Right now killing by the state is legal. We must make killing illegal. Thatís legislation, but it comes from street agitation. [applause]

I think about the Shadow Convention and protests. There was a lot of talk a few weeks ago about the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. In that constitution only white male land owners had the right to vote. Women, their wives, their mothers, their daughters, did not have the right to vote. African-Americans were considered three-fifths of a human being, and native-Americans did not have the right to live. Whites who did not own property could not vote. But, then there was a shadow convention. The Bill of Rights Minority Convention. It was the content and character of the Bill of Rights that gave sanctity and credibility to the Constitution.

The Constitution without the Bill of Rights is a shell. Itís a bottomless hole. When we shadow government, we have the power to change government. We the people have the power. [applause]

I believe in the power of protest. One of the great features of America is the right to fight for the right. While I challenge the convention to embrace those who are protesting because our energy comes from protest. Our courage comes from those who speak truth to power. Iíve seen a lot of film this week on John Kennedy, the 1960 convention, and I submit to you that the Public Accommodations Bill was not in his speech, it was not on the 1960 platform. It came from Birmingham, not from the convention.

While we applaud the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was not in the 1964 Democratic Platform in Atlantic City. The Voting Rights Act came from protests in Selma, AL. We wrote the Voting Rights Act in blood. It was co-signed in ink. When we move, we the people have power. We have power. [applause]

When I ran in 1984, neither party would touch the PLOĖIsraeli letís talk policy dialogue. It was protested in í84, itís since the policy today. Support ANCís ability to move beyond the UN. Neither support Mandelaís freedom from jail, but today Mandela is free because we engaged in protest. There is power in protest. [applause]

Dr. King was a protestor. He is the tallest model tree in the American forest. Jesus led a march on Palm Sunday. He was a protestor. He is the author of the faith of many of us. There is power in protest when you stand up and fight back and resist with courage and character and conviction you make America better. Weíre not made better by cowards or by adjusting. We make America better when we stand up and fight back with courage and will, and determination, and so keep fighting, and keep standing up and keep fighting back. We the people have the power. [applause]

There is this sick war. The people call it the war on drugs. There are two million Americans in jail today. Five hundred thousand more than China. We are five percent of the worldís population. China is twenty-five percent. Weíve got twenty-five percent in the worlds prisons today driven by a jail for profit industry. Of those in jail, ninety percent are high school dropouts, ninety-two percent are functionally illiterate. Of those in jail eighty percent are there on a non-violent drug charge, and because while there they cannot get treatment, only punishment, they leave there sicker and slicker and return quicker with a seventy-five percent recidivism rate. We must destroy this system because itís destroying our children. We must end the immorality of this system. [applause]

When the poor, the Black, the Brown are caught with drugs, itís called crime. When youíre rich and inherit power itís called youthful indiscretion. We demand one set of rules. We demand one set of rules.

This campaign, lastly, is a political campaign. I suppose because I grew up in poverty in South Carolina, I never had the option of all or nothing. I never had the option of my way or the highway. I always had to make some choices. Politically, Iíve learned to make choices. Iíve learned to make a way when thereís hardly a way. On the one hand, in the last eight years, the tent has gotten bigger. Thatís impressive to me because I know of smaller tents. When I look up and see Republicans have got Blacks and Browns on the stage, preaching, singing and break-dancing, trying to send a message [laughter], and I look at Pat Buchanan get a Black running mate[booing]. No, what it really means is whether youíre Pat Buchanan or whether youíre a Republican or Democrat, those who are disenfranchised thirty-five years ago, now will determine the next President, the next Congress and the next Courts, thatís what it really means. [applause]

We, who were once locked out, hands that washed, picked cotton, will now pick the President, pick a Congress and pick the Courts. We the people have the power. We must believe we have that power. [applause] We have the power. [applause]

When I see children, sons and daughters of slaves, and sons and daughters of the holocaust, ally politically itís a sign of hope. Let us not forget as they seek to manipulate racism and anti-Semitism and play off Blacks and Jews, one against the other, let us not forget if you look through a keyhole, youíll see a crisis here or there, but look at a door. There is something bigger going on here than the keyhole.

When the century began, Blacks and Jews allied. They fought together to make lynching a federal crime. They allied to fight for womenís suffrage. They allied for labor to have the right to organize. Eli Wheezel said the first person he saw in a concentration camp with a gun was a Black soldier, as a liberator in the concentration camps of Europe.

In í54 there was Thurgood Marshall, and Constance Martin, it is also Joe Riley and Jack Greenberg. In our movement in the Ď60s it was Medgar Evars, but also Swerner, Goodman and Chaney. When we overcome racism and anti-Semitism and fight together we change America. We the people have the power. [applause]

And, so I say this campaign today is not about race in the end, nor religion. Itís about resources. The book says leave no one behind. What about forty-two million Americans without health insurance. Theyíre left behind. What about fifteen hundred who die a day from cancer. Theyíre left behind. What about coalmines which take away lives with black lung disease. Theyíre left behind. What about second-class schools and first-class jails? We must leave no child behind our budget. Include all Americans in the budget. Itís about resources, about resources, about resources, about resource, about resources, about resources. [applause]

And, so I will not be neutralized by, when I make a decision, when I choose to go with, to me itís not just Gore and Lieberman. Itís Gore, itís Lieberman, itís Maxine, itís John

Conyers, itís Dashel, itís Gebhard, itís John Sweeney. When you walked that convention floor in Philadelphia two weeks ago, you saw on the stage a face without a substance. Tonight you will see forty- percent labor, a thousand Blacks, a thousand Spanish and Asians, half women. We have the power to change the course of our country.

I say for Bush and Cheney and Strom Thurmand and Jesse Helms and Tom Delay, we , in fact, must defeat them. We have that power. [applause] We have that power. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I will choose to support not just Gore and Lieberman. I support that congress, I support new course.

You know, when I look at it, Papa Bush gave us Clarence Thomas. Baby Bush in Florida killed Affirmative Action. George W. gives us oil slick Cheney. I say on November the seventh, letís fight back and stay out the bushes. God Bless You and keep hope alive. [applause]


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