Jesse Jackson Oversimplifies History

Conservative African-Americans affiliated with the Project 21 leadership network are appalled by comments made by the Reverend Jesse Jackson on January 15 claiming that early non-black Americans came to this country solely to exploit minorities. Some Project 21 members fear this may be another attempt by Jackson to use class warfare to pressure businesses to contribute to his organizations.

In a speech at a fundraising event for his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s “Wall Street Project” in New York City, Jackson said the shipping industry created the Wall Street financial district and the shipping industry prospered in early America because of slave trading.

During his remarks, Jackson said, “People didn’t come here looking for religious freedom; people came here looking for 100 free acres, the right to kill an Indian and free labor.”

Jackson’s comments insult early Americans and oversimplify history. While most non-black Americans were not in bondage at the time, Jackson characterizes the intent of non-black immigrants to America as coming specifically to exploit and/or kill black people and Native Americans. This is simply not true. Indentured servitude, long workdays and six-day workweeks in poor working environments were common for people of all races in early America.

Jackson’s biography on the website of Rainbow Coalition/PUSH website modestly begins: “The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., Founder and President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures.” As such, Jackson should be aware that, in fact, very many immigrants have come to the United States in search of religious freedom.

“If this is what Reverend Jackson truly believes about the early settlers, the he is without a doubt the most pathetic student of American history I’ve ever known,” said Project 21 member Jerry Brooks, a columnist for

It was recently reported in The Washington Times that Jackson’s Citizenship Education Fund (CEF) suffered a $3 million drop in contributions between 2000 and 2001. Companies contributing to Jackson’s organizations were AT&T, Apple Computer, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Burger King, NASCAR, SBC Communications, Ameritech, Texaco and United Parcel Service – companies that had been threatened with boycotts or other coercive actions by Jackson. This latest Jackson assault on American business may be fueled by a desire to replenish his diminished coffers.

Brooks adds: “Reverend Jackson’s comments highlight three crucial things. One, Jackson doesn’t understand why America is a great nation. Two, promoting victimhood has never elevated the status of minorities. And, three, he’s a really lousy student of American history.”

Project 21 has been a leading voice in the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact Chris Burger or David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s web site at

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.