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The Legacy Of Jesse Jackson Essay

2403 words - 10 pages

In the 1980’s President Ronald Reagan and his staff implemented the largest economic transformation in the United States since President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930’s (Niskanen 1993). The media labeled his economic agenda as “Reaganomics;” a term that the majority of Americans have since adopted to characterize President Reagan’s economic policies (ushistory.org 2014, White, Bay, and Martin 2012). Many Americans have contended that the policies of Reaganomics were disadvantageous to those who are dispossessed, the majority of whom were minorities (Pierre 1991). According to Jesse Jackson, the main tenant of Reaganomics, or “reverse Robin Hood[ism]” as he titled it, was that “the poor had too much money and the rich had too little” (Jackson 1988). Through his policies, President Reagan authorized extensive tax cuts for the upper income bracket and corporations, increased the military and defense budgets, and enacted extensive spending cuts to welfare programs, such as food stamps, child-care subsidies, job-training programs, and welfare assistance programs for the working poor (Mintz and McNeil 2013). In considering the implications of the various changes that President Reagan made to the economic system in the United States, it becomes evident that the policies had a positive effect on the rich whites and had negative consequences for the poor minorities. During both the 1984 and 1988 presidential nomination elections, many of the Americans who were negatively affected by President Reagan’s political policies were in search of a new hope—someone who would rescue them from the suffering that Reaganomics caused.
Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson presented himself as this hope in both the 1984 and 1988 presidential nomination elections. Even before he famously claimed in his speech that America “cannot stand four more years of Reaganomics in any version, in any disguise,” many American minorities already supported Reverend Jackson due to his background and involvement in racial and class equality (Jackson 1988). Reverend Jackson, a South Carolina native, grew up in the era of Jim Crow laws; he was taught to sit at the back of the bus and attended school in a segregated school district (Bruns 2005). He first became involved as a civil rights activist in 1960 when he worked to desegregate a public library in Greensville, South Carolina and participated in the Greensboro, North Carolina sit-in movement (Bruns 2005, Brown 2014). Later, in 1965, Reverend Jackson became a full-time organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a church-based black civil rights organization, and then in 1968, Doctor Martin Luther King appointed him to national director of Operation Breadbasket, an economic project of SCLC that aimed to increase black employment and businesses (CNN Library 2013, Brown 2014, White, Bay, and Martin 2012). After having temporarily stepped away from his religious training to focus on the Civil Rights...

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