By Chinta Strausberg
In reflecting on the 62nd anniversary of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS that ended segregation in the U.S., the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Tuesday said the real victory was not just the 13-month Montgomery bus boycott that ended segregation on public buses but a court ruling two-years later ruing the bus company was wrong.
Jackson was referring to the November 5, 1956 court ruling declaring the bus company’s racist laws that forced blacks to sit in the back of the bus were wrong.
Ironically, Jackson’s commemoration of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education anniversary comes on the same day that a federal court ordered the Cleveland School District of the Northern District of Mississippi to desegregate their middle and high school programs. The ruling comes after a 50-year court fight.
Reflecting on his school days in Greenville, SC when he was 6-years-old, Rev. Jackson said there was a nicer school visible from his home. “It was a nice school, little shiny windows, air-conditioning, green grass, flowers, Merry-go-Round, sliding board, kids jumping rope.
But when it was time for his mother to take him to school, young Jackson saw the disparities in public education and will never forget that contrast.
“As we walked past that school going downtown, I looked forward to going to school, but there was another school when we walked to churched on the other side of town about three-miles away, there was a school where we had to go double shifts, 8-12, 12:15 to 4 p.m.,” he recalled.
“Thee was no grass in the yard, no flowers, no Merry-Go-Rounds, no sliding boards, no swimming pools no fence. We played by sliding on the sidewalks. Something in me dropped. It was so overcrowded. It was fun because it was with my friends, but the gap between the schools closest to my house was miles apart.
“I had to walk past Greenville High School (where he saw) green grass, a big yard to practice football. We had to walk to a park about two-miles from our school just to practice ball. We had no campus, and that was what the 1954 decision was supposed to end….
Referring to May 17th, Jackson said, “This is a big day in African American and American history…. This was a big legal days. In 1861, 1865, Thirteen Amendment, 1877 the betrayal, 1880 taking away the voter protection and removing troops, 1896 apartheid, 1954…. The legal premise of ending apartheid takes us all the way to Barack’s election.
“Without that decision, you could not have won the 1955 boycott affirmed the 1954 decision. The big victory was not the boycott. The big victory was the court ruling in 1956 based on the 1954th decision that the boycott was valid and the bus company was wrong,” explained Jackson.
“All the rights we have post-slavery comes under this day back in 1954 which is a big deal,” Jackson said.
“You got the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. You got the 13th Amendment after the war is over. You have the compromise of removing the troops in 1877. You got taken away the freedoms gained in slavery with the 1896 decision separate resources and racism without protections.
After 15-years, we won this case. This is a big deal. Rosa Parks tested the 1954 decision in 1955 to see if it were real. That is when Dr. King emerged.
“That definition of democracy…the whole western world changed. That decision changed the whole western world because it began a new global frame of reference for equal protection. This is a big day.”
Asked how is it different today since 1954, Jackson said, “Discrimination exist but it is illegal. You have your day in court. You have the right to vote, the right to sit on juries, the right to end discrimination….all these rights we have, but you had no rights equal to white people under Jim Crow. The culture of resistance to our having these rights is strong, but at least legally we’re sound.”
Reminded that today our schools are more segregated than before, Jackson said, “That is because the resistance keeps on. Where the resistance took place was that it was based on ending race discrimination, but the Hispanics have a better lawsuit. Theirs was equal funding, not just equal races.
“Now Fenger and New Trier High are separated by funding based on tax base. They flipped the definition from race to resources which is justified by law, but race is not,” Jackson said. “They flipped the script.”
“Our ambitions were higher but our means were lower. Now, our visions are lower and our resources are higher. We thought at one time there was nothing we could not achieve…. Now, we got some thing of what they got but we find it kind of hard; after all we were in slavery longer than we’ve been free.
“This is still very much a journey. We were in slavery longer than we’ve been free. We were in Jim Crow longer than we have been free. We were in Jim Crow as law for 58-years. We did not have the right to vote for 58-years,” said Jackson.
Rev. Jackson tweeted: “On this date, May 17, 1954, the legal end of Jim Crow separation by race and resources. A date to be remembered, a promised unfilled.”
“Today is May 17, the anniversary of the 1954 decision. We can never miss the ramifications to address this issue on this day because after 246 years of slavery…, the 1896 decision to go under Jim Crow as a matter of law, we had 58 years of Jim Crow law separated by race and resources and they never stopped circumventing but the law change.
“ But one victory we do have today as Rosa Parks said why she went to the back of the bus. She thought about Emmett Till, a 14-year boy murdered by whites in Money, MS for whistling at one of the wives, and she said, “I could not go back.” Till was killed August 28, 1955. Parks refused to give her up bus seat on December 1, 1955 resulting in her being arrested which sparked the civil rights movement.
“The other reason was that she and attorney Fred Grey had been meeting every Wednesday discussing how to test the 1954 decision—the state law versus the federal law. She went to jail to test the 1954 decision,” explained Jackson .
“While the media tend to deal with the boycott as being the victory…as they won the boycott by not riding the bus, but the real victory was in 1956 when they won the legal court suit saying they were right and Alabama was wrong by law.”
Jackson said it was the 1954 decision that made the Montgomery successful legal because in 1956 the court said they were right to boycott the Montgomery Bus Company because of their separate and unequal rules.
Jackson said, “Everything we’ve achieved legally since that time including public accommodations, including the right to vote, came out of premise of equal protection versus separate but equal. This is a big day.”
However, while it may appear life is more equal with blacks and public education, Jackson said what whites did was to “maneuver by separating schools by resources rather than race.
For example, he said, “You can go to Naperville but if you look at Fenger Academy High School and Naperville they are separated by resources, not race; so schools are based on taxes…” a funding policy Jackson said is not fair.
“If your industry is gone, jobs down, separation is now by resource rather than race. They never stopped maneuvering but the law changed this day,” said Jackson.
Referring to his 45th anniversary of the Rainbow PUSH convention, dubbed “A More Perfect Union: From Freedom to Voting Rights to Economic Justice,” being held from June 25-June 29, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Hotel, 2233 So. Martin Luther King, Dr., Jackson said, “On that day the Selma connection was undercut.
“What made Selma so significant was that after 80-years, 1880, we lost the protected right to vote. So, the federal government stepped back in to protect the right to vote and if the bigots of the South moved their districts, they had to go through the Department of Justice to get around including us.
“The right wing never stopped arguing. The South is free now. They never stopped fighting until they got the right to remove protections like removing the troops.
“On June 25, 2013, in the Shelby decision, Shelby undercut Selma. We got the right to vote, but they can maneuver to gerrymandering schemes and circumvent it. In the south you have more blacks voting but less power because they drew white folks out of the Democratic Party and drew black folks in the back of the bus…the legislatures…
“We shouldn’t have been marching on Selma two-years ago celebrating the 50th anniversary. It didn’t last for 50-years. It lasted 48-years, and we lost to Shelby to this day,” he explained.
On June 25th, Jackson said he would focus on his 2016 agenda. Explaining how he just returned from France, Jackson said they declared an annual day of commemoration of slavery. They made slavery a crime against humanity by law. We’re arguing about politics.”
Jackson said slavery “is not to be played lightly….. The idea of commemorating slavery as a day to be remembered is a big deal. It’s a state of law…culture.”
Jackson said making lynching should be a federal crime. The NAACP, he said, was founded on making lynching a federal crime. “Between 1880 and 1940, 4,500 blacks were lynched, and they were never abled to make it illegal. They danced around lynching,” he explained.
On Saturday, June 25th, at his convention, he is holding a leadership roundtable on the 2016, November 8th countdown at the PUSH headquarters, 930 E. 50th St. At 12 noon, he is holding a reunion on Operation Breadbasket 50-years later. “It’s been 50-years since Dr. King gave me the assignment…,” said the 75-year-old Jackson.
“There will be a reunion of the whole Breadbasket crowd” followed by a youth festival in the park in the afternoon.
“PUSH has built a tech center teaching children how to do coding and apps.” There will be a tech preparation all day Saturday. On Sunday, June 26th, there will be a free Rev. Clay Evans gospel concert and ten companies including Google doing kids competition will be at PUSH. “We’re bringing Silicon Valley to Chicago.”
Jackson credited the Rainbow PUSH Coalition for Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of BET, who is now on the Twitter Board. “That’s our work,” Jackson proudly said. “This is another Rainbow PUSH victory because of our work in Silicon Valley.”
On Monday, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Hotel, 2233 So. King Dr., there will be a parents education summit, a global leadership roundtable including leaders from 14 African countries, an international women’s luncheon, headed by Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson, and Essence Magazine officials. HBCU president will be present.
“We still play down the value of their schools,” Jackson said of HBCU’s. Referring to the Chicago State University (CSU), Jackson said, “More blacks graduated from that school than all of the others in the state combined….900 graduated this year…. We’re not really fighting for that school because the stakes are very high for us.
“It should have a medical and law school,” said Jackson of CSU. “It’s our Spelman, Morehouse….” “Cook County has more black people than any other place in the country. We should have that college.”
Also on Monday, June 27th, Jackson is holding his annual PUSH Excel scholarship banquet and a state of higher education workshop.
Jackson said on Tuesday, June 28th, at 8:30 a.m., Jackson is holding a “State of Labor” breakfast at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Hotel. He is holding a Social Justice & Human Rights workshop at 10 a.m. and in another workshop the same day a panel on Sports & Technology. From 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
There will be a clergy luncheon on Tuesday featuring Bishop Kenneth Ulmer and Dr. Otis Moss, Pastor Emeritus of the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Dr. JoAnne Marie Terrell, professor, Chicago Theological Seminary and Dr. Obery Hendricks, president, New York Theological Seminary. There will also be a workshop on millennial on the age of hip hop where music executives will be on hand to lend their expertise to aspiring artists.
Wells Fargo & Bank of America will hold a workshop Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., and at 6 p.m., there will be a “Life Beyond the Playing Field” roundtable and sports banquet.
On Wednesday, June 29th, the last day of the convention, thee will be a workshop on “Access to health Care,” a diversity roundtable, a business luncheon featuring Lisa Jackson, vice president of Apple.
Jackson vowed to continue his fight for a “more perfect union” especially in the areas of public education and economic justice just like his mentor, Dr. King, did 48 years ago.