SALT LAKE CITY — The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson urged Utahns Thursday to "honor the American promise of equal rights and possibilities for all."
Speaking at press conference on the University of Utah campus Thursday, Jackson said the promise requires equal treatment of women, people of color and those with differing sexual orientations.
"It means being fair, rejuvenating our commitment to equal protection for all people and equal opportunity. We now see the advantage of living that way."
Jackson, 71, is keynote speaker for the U.’s Martin Luther King Week celebration “Justice for All: At What Cost?” Jackson’s address, given Thursday afternoon at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, was sold out.
Jackson said he is also scheduled to visit with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Thursday afternoon.
Asked if he had an opinion about the ongoing Utah debate whether to rename Dixie State College, Jackson said he was not familiar with the background of the issue. However, he noted that the Confederacy lost two wars, one in 1865 and another in 2012, an apparent reference to President Obama's re-election.
It means being fair, rejuvenating our commitment to equal protection for all people and equal opportunity. We now see the advantage of living that way.
–Rev. Jesse Jackson
"A more perfect union won over states' rights. One should not be flying flags of the loser," said Jackson, founder and president of the civil rights organization Rainbow/PUSH.
"We chose a union of states, a more perfect union. I hope the people will choose the American flag over the Confederate flag."
The nation’s remaining civil rights struggles are ongoing and will not be overcome until we are in "the tent," he said.
"The American promise is one big tent, everybody in and nobody out. Equal protection under the law is the American promise. Equal opportunity is the American promise," Jackson said.
Those living in poverty are especially vulnerable, noting that most poor Americans are young white females.
"Most poor people aren't on welfare. They work every day and they can't make ends meet. People who are poor often do not realize their potential and their potential is lost," he said.
The solutions to overcoming poverty, he said, include educating more children, creating greater productivity, stabilizing homes and making the economy grow.
Jackson, a civil rights activist and politician who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Democratic presidential nominee in 1984 and 1988.
For a complete list of MLK Week events, go to http://diversity.utah.edu/events/martin-luther-king
Video contribution: Richard Piatt