A few days back, KTVE-TV in Shreveport reported that Grambling State University had invited Jesse Jackson to show up in an effort to “mediate” or “heal” the rift between the university’s administration and the football team.
“I want to do whatever I can to help Grambling at this time,” said Jackson, a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, another historically black university. “It’s important that people everywhere know that what this proud institution faces is much bigger than football and much bigger than any one person because it is indicative of what’s happening at our HBCUs everywhere.”
“I am eternally grateful that the Rev. Jackson has been encouraging, engaged and supportive of our athletics and football programs, and our university generally, and I’m thankful that he has agreed to come and help us,” said Pogue. “The truth is that Rev. Jackson and I have been talking for weeks, well before the recent series of events.” Pogue said he and Jackson started working on a “Grambling State University Day” before the recent controversy erupted.
The Grambling press release the station quotes from blames state funding for “most of” the issues between the school and the players, and says Jackson will be on campus sometime this month and “definitely before the 40th anniversary of the Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Nov. 30 in New Orleans.”
Meaning Jackson will be at Grambling sometime this month.
He’s touring other colleges as well at present. In fact, on Wednesday night in an hour-long screed he unleashed at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina this is what Jackson had on offer…
“Goldwater and Reagan – had they been successful, it would have been illegal for blacks and whites to pay together on a Saturday afternoon,” he said.
“You couldn’t have had the Carolina Panthers behind the cotton curtain playing the Atlanta Falcons…[inaudible] it would have been illegal.”
In the tirade, recorded by a Furman University student, Jackson went on to claim that if Reagan and former GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater had their way, there would have been no Olympics in Atlanta, and basketball legend Michael Jordan would have ineligible to play basketball at the University of North Carolina (UNC), where he got his start.
“Michael Jordan couldn’t have gone to UNC… [inaudible] it would have been ineligible for him to play at UNC,” he continued “You couldn’t have had the Olympics in Atlanta Georgia. You couldn’t have had the Dallas Cowboys in Houston, Texas, you couldn’t have had the Super Bowl in New Orleans or in Atlanta or in Jacksonville or Miami.”
Jackson may have been referencing Reagan and Goldwater’s vocal support for state and individual rights, which a small number of far left critics interpreted as thinly veiled appeasl for segregation.
In the hour long speech, which focused on race but meandered through a number of subjects, Jackson made other incendiary comments, for example suggesting that the Washington Redskins name is a reference to the scalping of American Indians, ”
“How about pictures we see of Indians stabbing the cowboys” he asked. In reality what happened was if If you killed an Indian… [inaudible]…finally you got paid for the scalps of the red skins of the Indians…and that’s how we got the Washington Redskins football league.”
He repeatedly calling the United States South “the land of the free, the home of genocide” and suggested that the modern day Tea Party was born from efforts to maintain “the walls” of slavery and segregation.
“The Union, those in the Confederacy sought to maintain the walls [of slavery and segregation of races] and secede from the country, the shots fired at Fort Sumter, the beginning of the Tea Party, the ‘Fort Sumter’ Tea Party, who sought to secede from the union, set their own government, their own currency, sought to ally with France and Britain, to form their own country,” he said.
That wouldn’t appear to augur well for the message Jackson is likely to offer to the aggrieved football players of the cash-starved program at Grambling. One can imagine that when Jackson shows up he’ll proceed to bash Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for budget cuts to Grambling and accuse the governor of racism in education. We can smell that coming all the way from Chicago.
Based on Jackson’s Furman speech, President Pogue might want to re-think his invitation to Jackson. You’re not going to heal the problems of absent or misused resources causing a revolt among the school’s football players there by bringing in a virulent racist and political demagogue to cast blame on The Other. Whatever reparations or restitution Pogue thinks is due that university will be far harder to make happen if Jackson drops that bomb. It will destroy the goodwill this unfortunate controversy has caused and focus a great deal more scrutiny on Pogue’s management of the university.
It would have been nice to see people around the state and nation rallying to help Grambling offset the budget cuts that Pogue says caused the rift with his team (there are far other issues, particularly those explained in a letter the team wrote to the public when they refused to board buses to their game two weeks ago against Jackson State). When former Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard promised the team 10 days ago that he would see to it their facilities were upgraded if they returned to action, it looked like a good step in that direction.
Bringing in Jackson, given his recent brazen and irresponsible Furman comments, looks like a major step backward. And there will be a backlash – namely, a complete loss of sympathy and goodwill for Grambling – if Jackson makes good on his reputation for race-baiting this month.