Kerry Heralds Education and Good Deeds in Jackson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Kerry Heralds Education and Good Deeds in Jackson

"Mr. Kerry, Please help save our democracy. Equal Rights for all!" In a sea of "Kerry for President" signs, these words were written on a homemade sign held up in the far back of the gym at Tougaloo College on Sunday, March 7. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee visited the campus as a part of a weekend political swing through Mississippi just two days before his party's primary here. Earlier in the day, he had visited the Greater Bethlehem Temple Pentecostal Church of the Apostolic Faith on Robinson Street, where he read from the Book of James about the need to shore up "important words," such as "compassionate conservatism," by actually doing good deeds: "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" he quoted from the Bible.

Kerry then added: "I don't agree with the hollowness, nor do you, that tries to divide black and white, rich and poor, Massachusetts and Mississippi. In fact, some people just want us pointing fingers at each other. The reason they do that is so no one points a finger at them."

At Tougaloo, Kerry continued the theme to a very responsive, and diverse, crowd of about 700 that seemed to simply to want a conversation with the Massachusetts senator, and who didn't hide their disenchantment with the current president. Second Congressional District Rep. Bennie Thompson, the state's most senior elected Democrat, introduced the candidate, saying that he and others have turned in their A.B.B. (Anybody But Bush) membership in exchange for a John Kerry membership.

Standing under a banner that read "John Kerry: Protecting American Jobs," much of what Kerry discussed during the rally dealt with red-meat domestic issues that resonate with many Mississippians: equality, education, economics and employment.

Angela Taylor started the questions by asking for his plans to keep the Americans With Disabilities Act intact. "I will protect the Americans With Disabilities Act and target trying to hire 100,000 people with disabilities," Kerry said.

Taylor says this issue is very close to her because of her challenges dealing with disability discrimination in the workplace. "I was satisfied with his answer," she said later. "He has an energy for people; he can identify with everyone."

As Mississippians wait to see how big a slice of the pie Adequate Education funding will receive from the Legislature, Kerry said Americans must prioritize education resources. "In this country, we are content to pay $50,000 to keep children in prison and not $10,000 to educate them."

Kerry also addressed young people who have been locked out of educational opportunities due to their involvement in the juvenile-justice system. "My wife and I really want to see if we can start a pilot project in this country, maybe in 10 states if that is all we can afford at first, and that see how well 0-8 years education programs work. There were two schools in Pennsylvania that have a 25 percent hold-back rate in grades 1-4 … they got early childhood education involved with those children and the hold-back rate dropped to 1 percent. That saves money, ladies and gentlemen, and it saves lives," Kerry said.

In a tense moment, Emma White of Jackson brought up gay rights, an issue that has dominated the media cycle in recent days (including The Clarion-Ledger's story about Kerry's rally, which did not mention the word "education"). She challenged people who say that homosexuals are entitled to civil rights in the same way as black Americans.

"Homosexuality is an idea; being African American is not a choice," she said. "No doctor ever says 'Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, you have a bouncing baby homosexual."

Kerry responded that he believes marriage should be shared strictly between a man and a woman. But, he said, homosexuals should be protected from discrimination and violence, just as blacks are. He mangled his point a bit, though: "Let me tell you something, when Matthew Shepard gets crucified on a fence in Wyoming because, because, only because he was gay," Kerry said, "and Mr. King gets dragged behind a truck down Texas by chains and his body is mutilated only because he's gay, I think that's a matter of rights in the United States of America." Despite calling James Byrd, the black victim of white supremacists in Texas "Mr. King" and "gay," Kerry drew loud applause from the audience, who seemed to get his point.

He added, "Every American regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation should be protected under the Constitution." Kerry said he would help create hate crime legislation if he is elected.

Previous Comments

ID
64153
Comment

By the way, it's interesting to note that The Clarion-Ledger didn't mention Kerry's "Mr. King" gaffe, choosing instead to paraphrase and write around it. The same was true for some other national outlets, although some, such as the Boston Globe (and the JFP, of course) reported it as he said it, mangled words and all.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-03-10T12:40:34-06:00
ID
64154
Comment

The New York Times did the same thing... But also included the direct quote. Still, one of Byrd's assailants was named John William King which could have been a case of crossed wires that is possible during any live conversation or debate. I get the point either way and am glad he had the balls to equate discrimination with discrimination. He seemed to clearly recognize racism and homosexual discrimination are different but equally deserve attention from our policy makers and community. Could he be the "Uniter" the Republicans once promised us? I certainly know Bush has done a lousy job uniting anyone but the extremist right, the Taliban and a growing list of enemies. *That last statement does not imply that those groups are all in cahoots.

Author
kaust
Date
2004-03-10T18:11:26-06:00
ID
64155
Comment

Yeah, well, that was one of the most less-than-stellar stories I've seen the C-L do in a while. They should have used the full quote, no doubt. We had a discussion in our news room about it and said that even if it's not what he meant, it should be reported. I agree with you that his intent was clear as Ayana said it seemed to be with the crowd Sunday. But, it is also true that he might need to practice a bit more when talking about gay and civil rights issues to get the language right. Frankly, if Bush had made such a gaffe (imagine), we would have reported it, and the C-L should have, too, in my opinion. You're right about the King murderer in Texas, but from the context it doesn't sound like that's what he meant.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-03-11T14:20:49-06:00
ID
64156
Comment

Of course, the biggest problem with that C-L story is what they didn't mention at all -- it was a sensationalist story about Kerry's answer to a gay marriage question -- NOT a civic journalism stories about issues that matter, as Ayana points out above. I guess the C-L would say that's the fault of the readers, eh? We don't want to hear about things like education? Ahem. Robert McElwaine of Millsaps Colleges addresses this today in the C-L: Flabbergasted. That is the only way to describe my reaction to Monday's front page story on the visit to Jackson of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry ("Kerry visit precedes primary vote"). The article read like a press release from the Bush campaign. The reality of the Kerry rally was a serious discussion of the crucial issues to be decided in this year's election, ranging from health care through job loss, massive deficits and Iraq, to terrorism. Yet 91 percent of the article focused on an "issue" that came up in one question and which could not have taken more than 5 percent of the time Sen. Kerry spoke: gay marriage. That "issue" is precisely the red herring that the Republicans hope to use to distract voters from the monumental issues facing our nation. http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0403/11/lmcelvaine.html Go, professor, go.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-03-11T14:23:44-06:00
ID
64157
Comment

Well, sadly, it would seem that many people consider gay rights (read: eliminating or restricting equal rights) is more important than education, a growing deficit, unemployment, fleeing corporations/jobs, race relations, social policies, and a bank of rights being stripped from us all. I barely touched the issues, I know... But, maybe the C-L is showing its true colors and the demographic to which it caters by making this the primary topic in its coverage.

Author
kaust
Date
2004-03-11T15:02:59-06:00
ID
64158
Comment

I'll be honest: I don't know who they think their demographic is. People without original thoughts, I guess, or at least the ability to think critically. This story, for instance, was just insulting, both to Kerry and to their readers. They just assume we don't want to know anything except about the hot button issue o' the day. Yuck.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-03-11T16:12:44-06:00
ID
64159
Comment

The other day I happen to be watching the news and they showed a gay wedding somewhere. First I thought it was a dirty movie so I change the channel. Then I change it to a other news channel where they where talking about indecent broadcasting and they showed Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction I thought that was another dirty movie so I change the Channel Then I changed it to good ole Nick at Night then they had "Roseanne Show." This channel is for our youth to watch. What happened to our morals. I glad Chip Pickering is bring down the hammer on some of these media and tv shows. To sum it up: Good bye Jerry Springer Good bye Howard Stern Good bye Ozzy Ozborn Good bye any other trashy shows

Author
D. L. (Bubba) Skinner
Date
2004-03-13T20:55:43-06:00
ID
64160
Comment

Actually, we don't need the gov't. We just need to turn off the TV. I find that the people that complain the most about programming are the ones that watch the most TV. Save money, get smarter, get more fit - turn off your TV, unplug the cable, go for a walk, read a book. It's easy.

Author
kate
Date
2004-03-14T11:47:44-06:00
ID
64161
Comment

Ah, but Kate, people are supposed to take responsibility for choosing to eat dangerous food that companies sell them, but not for turning the TV dial, or at least that's what they're saying inside the beltway. This bit of political hypocrisy led NY Times Week in Review yesterday: AH, THE HOUSE AT WORK IN AN ELECTION YEAR The House of Representatives decided last week that Americans are responsible for the cheeseburgers they eat, but not the television they watch. That mixed government-as-guardian message was conveyed in two votes on popular bills that lawmakers see as carrying substantial election-year benefit at little political risk. On Wednesday, House members voted to bar customers from suing fast-food franchises on the grounds that their burgers, fried chicken and French fries are making Americans supersized. People have to police themselves, supporters of the legislation said. On Thursday, the same House voted even more convincingly to steeply increase fines on broadcasters and entertainers who distribute vulgar programming over the public airwaves. Advocates insisted the federal government has to play the parental role in this case even though - as one lawmaker noted - people can simply switch channels. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/14/weekinreview/14summ.html What hogwash.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-03-15T17:29:11-06:00

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