29 Jul 2003 Black Group Glad NASCAR Cut Ties With Jesse Jackson: Racing Organization Can Continue Minority Outreach, But It Doesn’t Need to Pay Jackson
NASCAR has severed its financial ties to the Reverend Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, ending what members of the African-American leadership network considered little more than a shakedown of the professional auto-racing organization. Project 21 members encourage NASCAR to continue its outreach to minorities, but consider Jackson’s past relationship more hurtful than helpful.
On July 29, USA Today reported that a NASCAR insider confirms the organization has not and will not make a financial donation to Jackson groups in 2003.
“This is a major win,” said Project 21 member Horace Cooper. “Supporters of NASCAR and advocates for good government alike can cheer this decision. No longer will an outstanding sports league support an individual whose moral failings make him unfit to promote progress on race relations and personal responsibility in our urban communities.”
Project 21 joined a campaign begun by the National Legal and Policy Center to urge NASCAR to end its financial relationship with Jackson. NASCAR reportedly gave Jackson’s groups over $250,000 in recent years. During that time, NASCAR introduced internal diversity programs and began minority outreach efforts. These efforts were effectively dismissed in late June, when Rainbow/PUSH board member Bill Shack called auto racing “the last bastion of white supremacy” in professional sports and Rainbow Sports director Charles Ferrell called NASCAR “a good ole’ boy’s Southern cracker sport” in July.
Jackson claimed credit for helping black driver Morty Buckles in a single race in 2001 and is reportedly helping put together a black motorcycle racing team. However, Project 21 was contacted by a high-profile black driver who said he had never been contacted by Jackson or his associates and by black team owners who believe Jackson’s intrusion in the sport is having a negative impact on getting black drivers on the track. In interviews, Project 21 members and staff pointed out that minority outreach is a benefit to NASCAR. Furthermore, Jackson – with his business ties – can do more to find the sport’s “Tiger Woods” by helping drivers find financial sponsors rather than dictating policy to racing officials. Finding sponsors would show Jackson’s true interest in diversifying the sport, and would not require a cash donation from NASCAR (which doesn’t fund teams or individual drivers).
Project 21 member Reginald Jones added: “I’m happy to hear that NASCAR is progressing in separating itself from Jesse Jackson. They are moving away from political correctness by moving away from Jackson.”
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.