By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
It was standing-room-only at Dr. King’s Workshop on October 8 where the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. celebrated his 75th birthday party for nearly six hours with tributes from many, including Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton used the occasion to launch a 30-day election countdown with the Black vote being the deciding factor of who wins the Oval Office.
The four-tiered party, which included breakfast, live broadcast and a press conference at noon, followed by a luncheon, was organized by the powerful Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown. She called Jackson “an international icon, a Civil Rights legend, a man who has stood for over 50 years fighting for social justice…fighting for you” and a man who is “trying to make this world a better place for you and for me.”
In the spirit of the movement, Sharpton, who was interviewed by V-103’s Herb Kent, used the occasion to launch a 30-day election countdown where he urged all to register and come out in huge numbers on Election Day, November 8 especially given the voter ID schemes designed to decrease the Black vote.
“We are certainly trying to protect our right to vote. We see all over the country attempts to disenfranchise us and purge us from the voting booth.” Sharpton is going to Ohio where he says, “they have taken 200,000 off the rolls. We’ve got to protect the right to vote, and we’ve got to get people out to vote.
“There is nothing more appropriate than today on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 75th birthday to have a 30-day countdown. There is a 30-day countdown. He registered more Democrats.
Referring to African Americans, Sharpton said, “We will be the deciding factor in the battleground states.” He went on to say that the election, “will be determined by the turnout of the Black vote. We not only have to show up. We have to stay up because we need lines to get pass these voter ID regulations.”
Sharpton called Mrs. Jackson to the stage and announced, Jackson’s son, former Congressman Jesse Jr., was making his first public appearance since his release from prison. Jackson’s children: Santita, Jesse Jr., Jonathan, Yusef, and Jacqueline Lavinia, joined hands and sang “Happy Birthday” to the man of the hour.
With raised fists, Jackson chanted his signature movement mantra, “I am somebody. I am somebody. Red and yellow, brown, Black or white. We’re all precious in God’s sight. Everybody is somebody. My mind is a pearl. I can do anything in the world if my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it. Stop the violence. Save the children. Keep hope alive. Never surrender. Come out in huge numbers. Come out November 8th, especially given the voter ID schemes designed to decrease the Black vote.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wished Jackson a happy birthday via video saying, “Thank you for your friendship, your work and your compassion for people everywhere. Bill and I are so inspired by your lifelong commitment to serving others. It is a true honor to have worked alongside you for so many years.”
Quoting the Bible, Clinton went on to say, “For true wisdom, your days will be many and years will be added to your life. Your wisdom is overflowing. You’ve taught all of us a lot. Bill and I wish you many, many more productive and healthy years.”
He said one of the most important things on the ballot is to see the senate turn back. “It will make a difference in confirmation of appointments and passing legislation..”
(For more information and photos on Rev. Jackson’s birthday go to www.chicagocrusader.com)