Article by David Hall
Reverend Jesse Jackson, major civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, spoke at Roanoke College in a town hall event sponsored by Roanoke College Democrats to a collection of students and community members.
Jackson and Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul, an alumnus of the college, led the discussion, which centered around topics of healthcare, inequality and religious and racial inclusivity. Senior and president of RC Democrats Myles Cooper introduced the pair and posed questions submitted by students in the crowd.
“This shows that we are open to all people with various ideologies. We had Ben Shapiro last year and now we’re having Jesse Jackson. This shows we have no real bias in terms of who we’re open to, regardless of whether we agree with them or not,” Cooper said.
Jackson, longtime civil rights leader, marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and founded the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a non-pro t focused on achieving civil rights. On a tour that touched several communities in Virginia including Lynchburg, The University of Virginia, and George Mason University, Jackson implored attendees to support single payer healthcare and automatic voter registration legislation in the commonwealth
Also, given recent events in Charlottesville, Jackson gave swift condemnation to the very existence of confederate statues.
“They never should have been established in the rst place,” Jackson said. “There are no Hitler statues in Germany. There are no swastika flags in Germany.”
But beyond specific policy proposals, Jackson relied on broad appeals to humanity that spanned across races, religions and gender. Sensing his surroundings, Jackson made several references to a common political theme of this region.