Dozens of supporters greeted Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Wednesday evening at the O’Hare International Airport where he arrived from Paris, France after receiving the country’s National Order of the Legion of Honor decreed by President Emmanuel Macron.
Through a small sound system, Rev. Jackson’s staff played “I Am Somebody” just before he existed the International Air France door. Some softly sang “I Am Somebody,” which Rev. Jackson often says.
Asked by the Chicago Crusader his feelings on getting the award, Rev. Jackson said President Macron appreciated his work as a civil rights activist that some think is a “thankless job. He appreciated our work,” said Rev. Jackson.
He and President Macron also talked about a myriad of social justice and medical problems including the COVID-19 virus and the need for countries to receive more vaccines.
He said not only does France need more vaccines, but countries like Haiti. “The first Black country to be free was Haiti,” Rev. Jackson said. They also talked about what should be done with young people whether to love and inspire them.
And, Rev. Jackson said he was impressed that France accepted a number of African Americans who left America to live in France—a country that welcomed them with open arms. He mentioned Miles Davis, author Richard Wright and Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, the world’s fastest cyclist who went to France and was given sanctuary.
“He was born in Indianapolis,” said Rev. Jackson referring to Taylor. “He raced in the South. He went to France and France gave him a sanctuary. A number of Blacks went to France for sanctuary. I am very impressed by that,” said Rev. Jackson to a cheering crowd.
A member of Rev. Jackson’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Brian McCoy, was one of 40 people who rode from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to O’Hare Airport.
“The Reverend has been a member of our fraternity for over 50 years. I have been a member only 20 years. It was an honor and a privilege to meet my friend and fraternity brother. It was a double blessing,” said McCoy.