The Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, visited the campus of Jackson State University Tuesday to speak on an upcoming April 1 march across the Crescent City Connection, a bridge spanning the Mississippi River from New Orleans to the bedroom community of Gretna. After New Orleans took a pounding from Hurricane Katrina, police from the majority-white community of Gretna shut down the bridge to largely black refugees fleeing the destruction in New Orleans.
Jackson said the Bush administration and the state government are trampling the voting rights of the dispersed by refusing to offer satellite voting places and absentee ballots to every displaced voter. Jackson also argues that the U.S. District Court of Louisiana has refused to postpone the election "to reverse this injustice."
The 1984 presidential candidate also discussed a variety of political issues, such as the waning interest of modern black voters in the face of widespread social cynicism.
"We've gone from 'I'll die for it (the right to vote') to 'please, please vote,'" Jackson lamented, and offered some tips on conveying the need to vote to the younger black generations, who Jackson says are more indifferent about politics than their parents.
"The disciplined must reach out to the undisciplined," Jackson said, saying politically active young people must work harder to convince their indifferent comrades.
"If you are a student getting financial aid for college, you have to understand that financial aid and voting is connected. If you don't do one, you won't get the other," Jackson said.
The NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are arranging for bus trips to New Orleans for the April 1 march. Call the Jackson NAACP branch at 601-624-7715 for information.