City Politics

Rainbow/Push Wall Street Project Economic Summit 2014



Part II of Four-Part Series*

*Note: Part One of reporter Dulan-Wilson’s continuing on-location Wall Street Project stories can be seen at

The Rainbow Push Wall Street Project Economic Summit got under way with a full house, as usual, as more than 700 attendees showed up to take advantage of the information and opportunities Rev. Jesse Jackson made available in a 3-day panoply of information.  To try to detail everything that has transpired thus far is impossible.  So these are the highlights of the events, thus far.

The afternoon plenary session examined 50 years after the Civil Rights Act – the unfinished agenda for economic justice. Assembling what could be considered a “blue ribbon” panel of activists, including Rev. Herbert Daughtry of House of the Lord Church, Brooklyn, NY; Julianne Malveaux, President and founder of Last Word Productions (and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority); Steve Cobble, former Political Director & Speech Writer for the Rainbow Coalition; Dr. Emma Chappell, National Treasurer for Rev. Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign; former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins; Mignon Moore, Esq., Dewey Square Group; among others. They were later joined on stage by former Louisiana Congressman Cleo Fields.

George Curry moderated the panel with Rev. Jackson, fielding questions and reminiscing over the events leading to his running for president and the years that have ensued.

George noted that in 1984 there were a lot of Black elected officials who would not endorse Rev. Jackson’s candidacy for President. He spoke of those who had pledged their support to Walter Mondale and would not change their mind and support Jesse. There were only a handful  of so-called political and community leaders who stood with Jesse in New York City – including former Mayor David Dinkins and Rev. Daughtry. “What made you take the stand? What was in your mind – break it down – what made you stand up for him?”


Rev. Daughtry responded that he had a lot of respect for Congressman Charles Rangel, who had called him to say that Jesse had asked for his backing but he had already pledged his support to Mondale. “One thing I learned from Jesse was to not let what happened to him from others cause him to resent them. And not to let it stand in the way of your achieving your mission. So he would kind of cool us all out. We go back to 1968, so I was a part of the ‘Run Jesse Run!’ crowd. My goal was, at the time I chaired the National Black United Front, which was the radical, revolutionary, nationalist, pan-African power group. And somehow it was beautiful that I was also a minister and able to bring together the various groups.” Jesse had set the track record, had been integrally involved in many of the various communities and was familiar with the problems and issues they were facing. He had, in a sense, already tilled the land. He had a way of relating to the votes “stuck at the bottom” so that he was able to get the recalcitrant voters to come out and be counted. Rev. Daughtry’s daughter, who was the CEO of the Democratic National Party and coordinated the 2008 Democratic National Convention, cut her teeth working with Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign.

Emma Chappell also theorized that part of the reason there is so little initial support on the part of Blacks when it comes to supporting major candidates like Rev. Jackson, and later Barack Obama, is that there is so little experience in the way of success on their part; they’ve been so downtrodden – the fact that Rev. Jackson didn’t allow that to deter him from forging ahead speaks to his character. “Rev. Jackson is so motivational and at the same time educational. He educates the public. A lot of people didn’t think that their vote meant that much, even though our forefathers and foremothers died for us to be able to vote, they had given up on whether their vote could be effective. Until, here comes Rev. Jackson and he motivates them and educates them on the importance of us coming out and voting in numbers. And that is exactly what happens. So, therefore, the leaders had to come into the fold because the people were there. {There is an African song entitled, ‘If The People Will Lead, the Leaders Will Follow’ that came out of Mali}.” Basically what she was illustrating was that the so-called leaders jumped on the bandwagon and had to catch up with the people who were so far ahead of them. “They said, ‘Oh yeah, we support Rev. Jackson! We were behind him all along’, as if it was their idea and intention to begin with.”

Julianne Malveaux interjected that the fact that the people took the lead and made their choices long before the leaders actually stepped up to the plate points out the “impotency of endorsements”. She emphasized, “You have people who come forth and believe that their word could sway votes. And their word does not necessarily do so. They believe that if they put in the newspaper that someone is not viable or qualified. When Barack Obama stepped out there, everybody took it as a joke, “they basically said, well, we’ll see how he does in 2012”, “ …but they definitely didn’t expect him to get the nomination, or take the lead, much less be elected as President of the US. “The fact of the matter is that we cannot allow anyone to totally speak for us.”

The consensus of the panel was that Rev. Jackson’s campaign has had an impact across the nation in terms of the number of African-Americans who followed suit and ran for political office subsequent to his run. Additionally, other constituencies began to more closely examine other African-American candidates in terms of their electability and leadership characteristics. Many of those who worked in Rev. Jackson’s campaign went on to have major boosts in their careers, including political positions, career moves that would not have occurred had it not been for their participation in a grass-roots campaign.

George Curry spoke of how it impacted his career as a journalist. Jokingly, he compared Jackson’s run to that of a repuglycon candidate: repuglycon candidates generally give a pre-prepared speech in writing to the media, and deliver the speech as written with no deviation, completely transcribed so that all the press has to do is print it. Additionally, according to Curry, they provide you with full meals so that you are made comfortable and to feel as though you’re a part of the team. You need never exert any of your skills as a journalist under those circumstances – you just e-mail the speech in and you’re done. He contrasted that to having to really work as a journalist in the Jackson campaign, when you never knew from one day to the next what the speech was going to say; whether the candidate was going to deliver it verbatim, who was or was not going to show up for a particular press conference. “You really had to use all your skills as a journalist. And it was because of that that I became a journalist – I cut my teeth on the Jackson campaign.”


(To be continued)



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