We are continuing our series on In this picture Jesse Jackson was thinking about running for President in 1983-1984. He asked Al Vann and I to convene Black leaders to help him decide whether he should put his “hat” in the political ring. Thus, we have the photo. September 1983, we convened every significant Black leader in New York at the House of the Lord Church. The important phrase that Jesse used in his speech to the crowded church, he said, “If I’m going to run, I need three things: the money, the masses and the machinery”.
Six years later, 1990, capitalizing on the movement that Jackson’s campaign had generated, David Dinkins would become the first Black Mayor of New York as did a lot of other persons achieved political success, including President Barack Obama.
A Wind of Change ‘A Blowin’
by Reverend Herbert Daughtry
February – March 1984
There is a wind of change a ‘blowin’ across the world. The challenge for us is that we discern it, that we name it, and that we commit ourselves to it.
This has been a rather historical week. We started with the Rev. Jesse Jackson's whirlwind crusade through New York, starting on Monday in Brooklyn at Fort Greene Senior Citizens' Center, from there to Boys' and Girls' High School, and we walked through the streets in Albee Square and visited New York Tech and the Bethany Baptist Church, where Dr. William Jones is the Pastor.
Then on Tuesday, back at it again-another leadership breakfast in the Bronx and visits to housing developments, to schools, and then to Staten Island and Queens. On Wednesday, back at it again; this time in Manhattan with a leadership breakfast at North General Hospital and visits to some of the colleges; in the evening a visit to the Atlantic Avenue House of Detention, and then finally the big rally on Wednesday night.
It was a tremendous experience. I think anybody who was in any way associated with it would agree. I must confess that never have I seen anyone so electrify people.
It didn't matter whether the people were professional or non-professional, employed or unemployed, no classed, over-classed, middle-classed, or whatever class. No one was quiet. The reaction was the same wherever Rev. Jackson passed through. It didn't matter whether the gathering was composed of students in high schools or colleges or persons who were incarcerated. No one could remain unmoved by this event.
As I start to analyze what was happening I was driven to the conclusion that we are in the midst of something that is bigger than one man. Something that is bigger
than Jesse Jackson. Maybe it is the wind of change that is blowing that has thrust him to centerstage. As I observed the man walking, I kept wondering if he, in
fact, understood the full dimension of what was happening. I'm certain that he did; he is a very wise and alert man. He seems to always be in command of the situation.
He seems to be standing on the brink of something. marvelous, something magnificent, and it may be that Jesse Jackson has been touched upon by history, touched upon by God.
I am not suggesting that we all agree that he should be the President or not be the President, but I am suggesting that we all agree that somebody has to be at centerstage; somebody that God and the God of history has laid hold upon: It may be Malcolm now; it may be Martin Luther King later; it may be Frederick Douglass; it may be Marcus Garvey, but it seems the Lord always sends somebody our way. I hope you will agree with me that we are not going to argue as to who it is-whether they come from the southern United States or the northern USA or whether they come from Jamaica, from Grenada, from Africa, wherever. I hope you will say with me that when the wind of change is blowing, and to whomever it is who comes to center stage, we will say, " Right on. Let's move ahead with the flow of history."
Then as we entered into our Convocation, we extended invitations to representatives of very key places in the world. We wanted to look at the Middle East, and we wanted the people who have interests there, at least even if they claim to have it, to come and to say to us what they are doing in God's world.
Growing out of the theological position, the Biblical position, as articulated by Chief of Staff Charles Barron, that the earth is the Lord's, which means that the earth
doesn't belong to any rulers, doesn't belong to any corporate giants, but to the Lord; therefore, we wanted them to tell us what they are doing in the Lord's earth.
So they came and told us what was happening in the Middle East. As I already indicated, the distinguished representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Terzi, came and told us what has been happening in the Middle East from his perspective.
Then, lo and behold, the distinguished ambassador from the Israeli government also decided that he wanted to come. Now that was kind of interesting. You see, we
sent them registered letters inviting them to this forum. Of course, we received on September 22nd the receipt that they had received the letter. They claimed on
October 6th that they hadn't received the letter and that they wanted to join the forum. And of course, our hearts are as big as all outdoors, so we said, "By all means come along. We want to hear your side." And would you believe it, they came and gave their side of the story. On Wednesday we wanted to look at Central America and the Caribbean. We extended invitations to representatives of the governments of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Cuba, and of course, the United States government.
We were delighted with the responses. We had the ambassador from Nicaragua. We had representatives from the FDR, and we had a very, very thoughtful statement of regret from our ambassador, his Excellency Caldwell Taylor, who indicated to us that there were serious deliberations at the General Assembly of the United Nations and that he could not come at that time. We understood because the Ambassador of Grenada is a great friend of ours, and he is always welcomed, so we pretty much know the position of Grenada! * If we don't know it by now, I don't think we will ever know it. Unfortunately, the representatives from Cuba also could not come, although they had indicated that they would.
Then on Thursday night we looked at the trouble spots in Southern Africa. The representative from the ANC was here, and we began to explore what is happening there. Significantly, the only government that did not respond at all was this government where we hold citizenship. U.S. Ambassador Kirkpatrick did not feel it necessary to even respond. Everybody else responded.
Be it as it may, when we look then at what is happening with Jesse Jackson, and when we look at the reports coming from across the world, indeed we are convinced that the wind of change is blowing.
There was no despair in the statements from the last representatives from Southern Africa. They reminded me very much of the statements made several years ago
by Joshua Nkomo who stood in this pulpit when the bombs were rained down upon his people. He stood here in this pulpit and said, "We are going to win. We are going to win!" and a couple of years later Southern Rhodesia had become Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe had become the Prime Minister.
They reminded me of the words of Sam Njomo, the President of SWAPO, who spoke to us in Nairobi, Kenya, at the OAU Conference; and when he was asked, "How do you expect to win?" he said, "We are going to win because the people are on our side." Thus, the representatives of Southern Africa did not bring us words of despair, did not bring us words of discouragement, but rather brought us words of hope that the day…
To be continued...
*This address was given prior to the death of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and the subsequent U.S. invasion and takeover of Grenada.