As we celebrate Black History Month, it is difficult to think about the contributions and impact of African Americans in this country without including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Rev. Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Rev. Jackson worked very closely with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and is a two-time Democratic presidential candidate. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor, and has been credited with securing the release of hostages and political prisoners through diplomacy. Rev. Jackson was ordained in 1968 and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2000.
As the nation is dealing with the tumultuous climate under the current administration in the White House, it is fitting that Rev. Jackson will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 Houston Community College Black History Scholarship Gala being be held at 6 p.m., Saturday, February 24, at The Ballroom at Bayou Place – Downtown Houston, 500 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002.
Through his wisdom and historical insight, Rev. Jackson will speak on this year’s gala theme: “The Politics Of…” which is sure to be a timely and much-needed discussion surrounding the current political climate in America, including examining the public governance impact on systems and issues that impact the daily lives of African Americans.
In an exclusive interview with the Forward Times, Rev. Jackson explains that he plans to focus his attention on giving historical insight and assessing the current social and political climate during his much-anticipated Black History Month speech.
“There is a tug-of-war going on in America, and you only lose if you don’t fight back,” says Rev. Jackson. “When I come to Houston to speak to the attendees, I want everyone to focus on the power of our vote, building coalitions and having disciplined minds. These are some tough times, but we are also some tough people.”
Rev. Jackson points to several key races across the country as proof that in spite of the current political landscape, the future of African Americans in this country is promising and bright.
“Currently, there are 50 Blacks in Congress and there can be more if Black people come out to vote,” says Rev. Jackson. “When you look at the race in New Jersey, we got the state’s first Black lieutenant governor (Sheila Oliver). When you look at the race in Virginia, we got the state’s second-ever Black lieutenant governor (Justin Fairfax). When you look at Alabama, the Black vote helped defeat Trump and Roy Moore. If we want to protect our future we must have mass demonstrations to the polls, and we must also have an agenda where we are holding politicians accountable for what they promise to do for us when they ask for our vote.”
Rev. Jackson believes that Black people have more power when they come together in unity and believes that voting is a crucial step in fighting back in this current political climate.
“We are going to win. Trump can’t stop us. This year, we can win the Congress back if Black people simply come out and vote,” says Rev. Jackson. “There are 4 million voters in the South who are not registered to vote, and another 2 million or so who are registered but are not voting. When Black people decide to vote, you can set Trump on his rump.”
HCC Board President Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz states that the theme, “The Politics Of…” is a five-part series that HCC has been doing, covering sports, education, gentrification, worship and entertainment, and that the series is culminating with Rev. Jackson as the keynote speaker.
“The Black History Committee hopes that the attendees will realize the importance of engagement in politics as politics touches all areas of our lives,” says Dr. Evans-Shabazz. “It is so vitally important to vote to impact the political process.”
In addition to Jackson’s speech, other prominent leaders in Houston’s business, education, sports, entertainment and political communities will be recognized with Lifetime Achievement Awards and Unstoppable Leadership honors at the scholarship gala.
“The theme for this year’s gala is “The Politics Of…” and the Black History Committee has created a vehicle that engages our minds and raises our intellectual awareness,” says HCC District IX Trustee Dr. Pretta VanDible Stallworth. “In this highly charged political climate, we should be cognizant of the impression that political intent places on our lives. Family, Education, Religion, and Community are all impacted, albeit adversely or positively.”
Now in its 12th year, the HCC Black History Scholarship Gala raises funds for deserving HCC students. Tables, tickets and more information are available at hccs.edu/blackhistory.