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Civil Rights figure Jesse Jackson speaks at Mason

By Alexander Shedd, Staff Writer

A notable Civil Rights figure, Reverend Jesse Jackson, spoke to George Mason students in the Harris Theater on Friday, Sept. 15. The event was hosted by Mason’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME).

Jackson’s history included being called “The Conscience of a Nation” and “The Great Unifier” during the peak of his career in politics and civil rights, according to an introduction speech by by Tion Anthony and Isaiah West, the current and former Presidents of Mason fraternity, Omega Psi Phi.

Jackson spent the majority of his hour-long speech discussing the recent surge of white supremacy and neo-Nazism in the United States. “We must not let the forces of meanness hold us back,” he said of the now infamous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last August, in which one counter-protester was killed. Toward the end of his speech, he added that “even [the Charlottesville protesters] are our brothers and sisters; we must lift them up to a higher plane.”

Jackson also discussed the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election, and throughout the event stressed the need to get out the vote. He reminisced on his time marching with the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr, and went so far as to call out unregistered students to register to vote on the spot.

Jackson ended the speech with positive words. “We are better off [than we were in the 1960s], this is the best America we’ve ever had.”

Reverend Jackson will continue his tour of Virginia colleges and universities throughout the next month in preparation for Election Day in November.

Photo Courtesy of Olivia Vermane