Interview with Jesse Jackson

Now when you were there in Overtown, you stayed with a Black family in Liberty City I recall. Can you recall any impression or story that gives us some incite into how people felt? REV.


Well you know, ah, the people are basically conservative, Christian, patriotic, also, humiliated. These are not people looking for trouble. They were looking for a job. Looking for respect. Looking for protection. And they found none of that. And while the government made provisions to bring the Cubans in, ah, they never made any provisions to allow the African Americans who lived there to maintain a, a standing of living or to grow. So you had a very high unemployment rate among the youth, ah, ah, inadequate job training, almost no program for building affordable housing. So what you saw in the riot really were voices of despair, the voices of the unheard. And so people with their back against the wall, particularly the young, lashed out, and, and fought back. In part I went there because of my concern and fear that they would simply be slaughtered, killed without any sense of mercy. Also, at that time Mr. Carter was the President and there was a bit more sensitivity. I recall President Carter sending a team of people, ah, Ernie Green and Lamond Gotwin, Alexis Herman, a team of people from the White House to, ah, analyze what could happen in the short term in terms of some immediate relief. So there was a certain sensitivity from the White House but there had been no, no program there, ah, that would provide any kind of economic parity. You know, ah, when Europe was down and had to be developed, they offered 20 year, 2 percent, long term loans, government secured. That was the heart of the Marshall Plan, not just grants, the chance for economic growth and development. Well the Miamis of our nation never got that kind of consideration, never got that development. And even this day, it remains a tinder box.