Interview with Jesse Jackson
QUESTION 8
MADISON DAVIS LACY:

Tell me something about Harold Washington, from all I've seen and heard of him, he was a magnificent man. Give me some recollection, impressions of him. REV.

JESSE JACKSON:

You know I, I shall never forget when Dr. King was leading marches in Chicago, that was this, the machine Blacks, Silent Six, who could not protest because they were operating within the context of Daley's apparatus and that was the independent struggle. Well, obviously the independent forces identified with Dr. King. The machine forces, ah, religious leaders, the political leaders actually had a press conference. Some of them were singing songs to Daley, serenading Daley--"Must Daley bear the cross alone and all the world go free," ah, "Give me this day our Daley bread." Certain kinds of, well it was humiliating, you see, ah, and so we had this division, a kind of class division, in the movement, not in the movement, in the machine. And so one I was talking to Harold Washington and Rudy Polk in Harold's apartment right down from my office on 47th Street. So Harold gave me, ah, it was four hour meeting, it was almost a tearful analysis of how he had grown up with the desire to be free just like anybody else. Now he admired and respected Dr. King but the Chicago political options were of such, there was some good people trapped in the machine and there was some not so good people not in the machine, some not in it because they couldn't get in it. But it was more complex than, with Dr. King or not with Dr. King and he explained his evolution toward independence, he'd say, He knows it. He studied it and the precinct captain in it, don't like it. This was 1966. This was like six years before he really made his public break with the machine. So Harold had a tremendous sense of ideology. Harold was an intellectual and a political activist. So when be became mayor, it was not just a ceremony, Now, I'm mayor. He said, Now that really mean reform government. It means open government. Open the books, fair government, fair job distribution and promotions and contract distribution and ethical government. Well in Chicago that's revolutionary government, you know. Open, fair, ethical government, where, Chicago becomes our kind of town. So he had a sense of ideology and a sense of political integrity. Ah, he was a man whose shoulders was as broad as Chicago's broad shoulders. He was tough enough to be equal to the task of being mayor of that city.

MADISON DAVIS LACY:

Let's stop down now. REV.

JESSE JACKSON:

Moses got to the Red Sea and had a rod, they had a fit of faithlessness, he dropped the rod and the blessing became a cursing and could have bit him and destroyed him. It was not that he regained his faith in God did he pick up the rod and stretch out his hands. A people with a vote, with a, with a broken spirit will not pick it up and use it. Harold was able to renew our faith and bring about this broad based coalition and people's minds and their votes and their sense of obligation, opportunity and privilege, consolidated in this man. He had, he had this tremendous person, ah, and within him, ah, we found a comfort and a security. And so the miracle was, unity in the community and reform government, reform, open, fair ethical, reform government. Maybe even for Chicago and maybe for the nation, revolutionary government.

MADISON DAVIS LACY:

OK.