Jesse Jackson

Andrew Rossmeissl @ Fri, 2006-08-11 09:45

". . .In 1965, Dr. King decided it was time to come North to highlight that Northern racism was more concealed than in the South but still very much alive. He narrowed the choices to New York and Chicago, cities representing the nation's largest Black populations. SCLC staff people concluded that New York's Harlem was too disorganized and fragmented. They chose Chicago, the hub of America’s Black life. . . .

During that period, I attended Chicago Theological Seminary, along with David M. Wallace and Gary Massoni. We three pioneered Chicago's Operation Breadbasket. In our last year of school, our lives were changed directly by Dr. King's visit to Chicago. Dr. Alvin Pitcher, our ethics professor, helped us organize a minister's meeting held on Wednesday evenings, where we discussed social justice concepts. The Reverends Frank Sims, A.L. James, Clay Evans, Edmund Blaire, Stroy Freeman, the Reverends Claude and Addie Wyatt and Henry Hardy belonged to this group. As the ministers internalized these new ideas and impressions, their social attitudes and ministries changed. Not all accepted that. One minister became so disturbed by our thrust that he chased us out of the church with a loaded gun. . . .

It was in these conditions, in the heat of resistance, that the Chicago Chapter of Operation Breadbasket was born. We organized in 1966. We met on Saturday mornings. Our goal was to use the power of the Church to produce employment and business opportunities for Blacks. . . .

Dr. King's move to Chicago redefined the city. King was seen as a direct threat by the late Mayor Richard Daley, whose throne was shaken. The power political machine was troubled . . . .

Marches into communities like Marquette Park and Gage Park became part of Chicago's bloody history. Dr. King commented after he was hit in the head with a rock from the Gage Park open housing march that it had never been so bad in the Deep South. During the Gage Park demonstration, cars were overturned and burned, and policemen attacked from tree tops. Midwesterners were attacking a Nobel Peace prize winner on their front yards. The urban jungle had exploded. Daley painted Dr. King as a 'troublemaker.' He tried to punish him, his workers and his supporters. Daley lost . . . ."

From Reverend Jesse L. Jackson in "A Lasting Impression: A Collection of Photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr." by John Tweedle (University of South Carolina Press, 1983)