Jackson urges social activism

The young must take up the fight for social change and carry it forward.

That was the central thought during the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s dinner with students and administrators and press conference with media Thursday.

“Young America has a real challenge to use its energies and to avoid the traps of drugs, sex, degradation and self-destruction and use their collective energies to fight to make this a more perfect union,” Jackson said.

Jackson fielded questions from local news outlets on the second floor of the Alumni Center before joining student leaders and administrators for a dinner sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Activities.

Jackson stressed that the young need to focus on moving themselves and the world forward, adding that college can develop that strength of purpose. Jackson said Martin Luther King Jr. – who finished high school at 15, college at 19, had a seminary degree by 22 and a doctorate at26 – stands as an example of what the energy of the young can accomplish if effectively channeled.

“Have a good mind,” Jackson said. “Strong minds make strong changes.”

Jackson went on to say that strong changes are needed because King’s dream remains unfulfilled. Ending poverty, making education and healthcare accessible for all and living in peace all remain as unrealized parts of King’s dream, Jackson said.

“I dream of a day when we all have that broken promise,” he said.

At the dinner, USF President Judy Genshaft, Multicultural Activities director Sam Wright and President of USF’s chapter of the NAACP Natasha Brown all spoke before Jackson delivered his message.

At the dinner, Jackson expressed his sorrow over the death of USF running back Keeley Dorsey.

“Sometimes fate can deal such a cruel blow,” Jackson said.

During Jackson’s press conference, he spoke about the Iraq war and the need to pursue diplomacy and measured, rational decisions rather than use hasty militaryintervention.

“That’s the challenge for young America today,” he said. “To choose reconciliation over conflict and resolve conflict with diplomacy, to use military only as a last result and not as first resort.”

Jackson also spoke about the universal nature of the problems facing America today, especially poverty.

“The issue of poverty transcends race. … Even today most poor people are not black, they’re not brown, they’re white. We have to address poverty for the working poor.”Affecting change is not just something that people should aspire to, but something incumbent on them to do.

“In some sense it is our duty to keep pushing the ball forward and remove ancient walls to make this a more perfect union,” Jackson said.

“Our nation has the challenge to go forward by hope, and not by fear.”