BADGER HERALD: Jesse Jackson addresses thousands outside Capitol

February 18, 2011
Katherine Krueger
Jesse Jackson addresses thousands outside Capitol in solidarity with unions

 

The famed civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed a crowd of thousands outside the Capitol Friday evening, urging the protestors to continue to fight for worker’s rights.

 

Jackson said the protestors had already achieved a milestone victory since the State Assembly voted to adjourn until Tuesday, after considering the Democrat’s amendments to Gov. Scott Walker’s much-disputed budget repair bill.

“You’re winning the Super Bowl of worker’s rights,” Jackson said.

He characterized the protestors as champions of human rights and said the act of standing up for one’s beliefs is part of what makes America great.

Protestor’s welcomed Jackson by singing “We Shall Overcome,” an anthem for Martin Luther King Jr.’s battle for civil rights decades ago, during which a young Jackson gained attention for advocating integration in libraries.

Jackson also said workers have the right to be at the table and to bargain collectively, a sentiment which sparked mass shouts of support from the gathered crowd.

He added civil rights activists have never lost a battle they have fought and encouraged University of Wisconsin students and academic staff, along with union labor members and educators, to continue to act in opposition to the bill.

In the same way the fight in Birmingham was won only through continued efforts from supporters, the fight in Wisconsin for workers’ rights would also be successful, Jackson said.

The issues facing Wisconsin workers is a dilemma which transcends boundaries of race and legislators should consider advocating a bottom-up instead of just a top-down approach to policymaking.

Jackson’s unannounced visit was also marked by the appearance of former senator Russ Feingold, who prompted shouts of “Feingold for Governor” from the protestors.