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Jesse Jackson

African-American civil rights activist and politician
If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.

The Reverend Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. (born Jesse Louis Burns; October 8, 1941) is an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as a shadow U.S. Senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He is the founder of the organizations that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.



  • I am somebody.
    I am a somebody.
    I am a child of God.
    I may not be educated but I am somebody.
    I may not have any money but I am somebody.
    I may not eat steak every day but I am somebody.
    I may not look the way you look but I am somebody.
    • Prayer during the Poor People's Campaign march in Washington, DC (21 May 1968)
  • Politicians argue for abortion largely because they do not want to spend the necessary money to feed, clothe and educate more people... There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of higher order than the right to life. I do not share that view... That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside of your right to concerned.
  • If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it because I am somebody!
    Respect me! Protect me! Never neglect me!
    I am somebody!
    My mind is a pearl! I can learn anything in the world!
    Nobody can save us, from us, for us, but us!
    I can learn. It is possible.
    I ought to learn. It is moral.
    I must learn. It is imperative.
    • Speech at Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana (4 March 1979), quoted in Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith (1987) by David G. Myers and Malcolm A. Jeeves. The first sentence is a modification of a quote by Napoleon Hill: "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
  • That's all Hymie wants to talk about is Israel. Every time you go to Hymietown that's all they want to talk about.
    • Remark to Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman (25 January 1984), using an anti-semitic slur. See Coleman (10 April 1984) "A good reporter must put ethics ahead of other considerations" The Milwaukee Journal
  • You must not surrender. You may or may not get there, but just know that you're qualified and hold on and hold out. We must never surrender. America will get better and better. Keep hope alive!
    • "Keep Hope Alive", speech at the Democratic National Convention (19 July 1988)
  • There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating.
    • Remarks at a meeting of Operation PUSH in Chicago (27 November 1993). Quoted in "Crime: New Frontier - Jesse Jackson Calls It Top Civil-Rights Issue" by Mary A. Johnson, 29 November 1993, Chicago Sun-Times (ellipsis in original). Partially quoted in "In America; A Sea Change On Crime" by Bob Herbert, 12 December 1993, New York Times.
  • We need a regime change in this country.… If we launch a pre-emptive strike on Iraq we lose all moral authority.
  • See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith-based... I want to cut his nuts off. Barack, he's talking down to black people.
    • Jesse Jackson, thinking his mic was off, on Obama's faith-based initiative, while on Fox News Channel; [1]


  • We've removed the ceiling above our dreams. There are no more impossible dreams.
    • As quoted in The Independent (9 June 1988)


  • Jesse Jackson came by and said he wants to endorse me. I look on this with some doubt, because he generally makes his living criticizing people, not supporting them.

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