Jesse Jackson for President Campaign Committee


ON THIS DAY 40 YEARS AGO, June 4, 1984!

I, Abdul-Jalil, had pleasure to work with the Jesse Jackson for President Campaign Committee, and two Northern California Fundraisers: The “Jesse Jackson for President Dinner” in Berkeley and The “Sunday Brunch with Jesse Jackson” in Oakland at the Lake Merritt Hotel on June 3, 1984, the eve of the Democratic Convention before the California June Elections and during the two week event filled Democratic Convention through out in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Northern California Jesse Jackson Fundraiser Dinner Executive Committee:

James Moore- Chairperson,

Marcene Mitchell- Asst. Program Coordinator

Homer Key- Subscriptions Coordinator

Danella McGrue- Arrangement Coordinator,

Mark Keener- Financial Coordinator,

Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim- Media Coordinator,

Mikki Boddi- Asst. Subscriptions Coordinator

The “Sunday Brunch with Jesse Jackson” Fundraiser Dinner Executive Committee:


Danella McGrue, Mark Keener, Mikki Boddi, Osa Russell, James Moore, Rhonda White-Warner, Abdul-Jalil

The Sunday Brunch with Jesse Jackson was held at Lake Merritt Hotel on the eve of the Democratic Convention June 3, 1984; and the Jesse Jackson for President Dinner was held at Hs Lordships Restaurant on the Berkeley Marina June 4, 1984 with Whoopi Goldberg Surprise Guest Entertainment.

Watch the video hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — with commentary from Kimberle Crenshaw of UCLA and Columbia law schools, political strategist Donna Brazile and Civil Rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton — we celebrate Rev. Jackson and his fight to have a seat at a table that wasn’t quite ready to serve him.

For the California June Elections, Jesse Jackson led about 100 residents of an Oakland housing project on a march to within 500 feet of a polling place today and told them, ‘You must now cross the chilly Jordan.’

Jackson addressed an early morning rally at the ACORN housing project and then marched on the polling place a block away. He was forced to stop at the 500-foot legal line beyond which no electioneering is permitted.

‘There comes a point that leaders can’t take any farther and you must go on your own,’ Jackson told the group of black supporters. ‘No matter how much a parent loves the child there comes a time when the child must go on his own. You must cross that line and make the world better for these children.’

I brought you as far as I could bring you,’ said Jackson, standing on he sidewalk. ‘You must now bear the burden of responsibility. You must now cross the chilly Jordan.’

Earlier, Jackson told a rally at the federally supported housing project that today’s final primaries are only the first phase of his campaign, which he said would go on well after the July convention in San Francisco.

‘This ends one phase of a tremendous campaign — a campaign designed to bring you in, to bring you up, to wake you up, to shake you up, to shake the foundation of our nation and make room for the locked out,’ said Jackson.’A campaign that will rest only when the hungry are fed, when the naked are clothed, when the jobless have jobs and job training.’

We will not rest until we study war no more and beat our swords into plowshares, our spears into pruning hooks,’ Jackson said. ‘This race has just begun. One phase ends today, June 5. Another ends July 19 at the close of the Democratic Convention. But this drive for justice at home and peace abroad — this drive to educate our children and to centralize our family, this drive to pull people together across lines of race and region and sex and religion will grow and grow and grow.

We’ve never seen anything like it before,‘ Jackson said.

Jackson planned to fly later to Los Angeles where he scheduled more primary day activities and planned to greet the returns from the five states tonight.

On Monday night, Jackson took to the stage in a steamy auditorium in Oakland and portrayed Democratic presidential rivals Walter Mondale and Gary Hart as children whose feelings have been hurt.

Among some, an idea took shape: recruit a black presidential candidate. It picked up momentum early in 1983, when Rep. Harold Washington of Illinois triumphed in Chicago’s Democratic mayoral primary, an upset that positioned him to become the first black mayor of America’s second-largest city.

Proponents envisioned a black presidential candidacy accelerating the registration of new black voters, forcing the political and media establishments to address issues they might otherwise ignore, and possibly even leveraging a strong showing into the vice presidential slot. Meetings were held, studies commissioned and names bandied about as possible candidates, including Walter Fauntroy, who had organized a slate in D.C.’s 1976 primary and still represented the district in Congress, and Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, among others.

With black leaders, however, support for a black candidacy was far from universal.

Andrew Young, who’d become mayor of Atlanta after his Carter administration tenure, argued that it would be wiser for the black establishment to spread out its support so that it would be represented in every major presidential campaign and be guaranteed some leverage with the ultimate winner — an approach that the Rev. Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference argued against. “Andy was on the inside with Carter, but what did that get? All it got him was to the U.N., and it got him fired,” Lowery said. (“Black Leaders Hear Plan for Key Role in Democratic Convention,” Milton Coleman, The Washington Post, March 13, 1983.)

While the debate continued, a candidate volunteered: the Rev. Jesse Jackson, still the Chicago-based leader of Operation PUSH. Aggressive in his pursuit of media coverage, Jackson was by now well known nationally, and a poll showed him running at 9 percent in the Democratic race — far behind the front-runners Walter Mondale and John Glenn, but better than any other aspirant.

In early November, Jackson announced his candidacy. “We are members of the party and we don’t want to leave,” he said, “but our self-respect is nonnegotiable.” (“Jackson Declares Formal Candidacy,” Ronald Smothers, The New York Times, Nov. 4, 1983.)

Even Jackson’s supporters generally conceded that he had no realistic path to winning the nomination, and his candidacy was not widely welcomed by leaders of the black political establishment.

Since we are so frightened by the Reagan system of government,” Benjamin Hooks, then executive director of the NAACP, said, “our primary concern should be ridding the nation of that system. Therefore we should vote for that candidate most likely to achieve that end.” (“N.A.A.C.P. Chief Warns Against Black Candidacy,” The New York Times, July 4, 1983.)

Among civil rights veterans, Jackson remained a polarizing figure. Young refused to endorse him, and so did Coretta Scott King and Julian Bond. Many black leaders instead sided with Mondale. Jackson shrugged it off: “Gandhi didn’t go to the leaders for approval for his movement. Neither did Jesus.” (“Jesse Jackson: His Charismatic Crusade for the Voters at the End of the Rainbow Coalition,” Lois Romano, The Washington Post, July 31, 1983.)

Not surprisingly, Jackson finished in single digits in the lead-off contests in heavily white Iowa and New Hampshire. His big test came on Super Tuesday, with primaries in three Southern states with significant black populations: Alabama, Florida and Georgia.


Jackson’s viability was on the line: He needed to break 20 percent in at least one state or he’d be shut out of federal matching funds — and dismissed by the media. The trio of primaries was equally critical for Mondale, who was banking on strong African American support and whose candidacy was suddenly on the verge of collapse after a stunning blowout loss to Gary Hart in New Hampshire.

They both got what they needed. Mondale pulled in about a third of the black vote, enough to propel him past Hart in two of the contests, Alabama and Georgia, and put his candidacy back on track. But when it came to black voters, Jackson was the big winner, claiming an outright majority of black support in the three states, according to NBC News’ black voter data analysis.

“I feel like if we don’t pull the lever for Jackson, Martin Luther King might turn over in his grave, and we want him to rest in peace,” one voter in rural Alabama was quoted as saying. (“Reckoning Day For Jesse Jackson,” Art Harris, The Washington Post, March 14, 1984.)

It was a milestone moment for Jackson and for black politics. His best showing was in Georgia, where he won 21 percent of the statewide vote — the best a black candidate had ever fared in a binding presidential primary. He hit the matching fund threshold and also cleared a more informal barrier with black voters who hadn’t known what to make of his candidacy. As the race moved on, Jackson won increasingly large shares of the black vote, powered by grassroots energy and pride that blunted the impact of Mondale’s endorsements.

The Jackson campaign also featured an extensive voter registration drive, which increased black turnout and changed the composition of the Democratic electorate. In New Jersey, for example, black voters represented 20 percent of the June Democratic primary electorate — nearly triple the 7 percent they’d accounted for in 1980.

Jackson garnered 3,282,431 primary votes, or 18.2 percent of the total, in 1984. He won five primaries and caucuses: Louisiana, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, Virginia, and one of two separate contests in Mississippi. He had exceeded expectations. 

For black leaders who’d snubbed him in the primaries, there was fallout. At the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, Coretta Scott King and Young entered a gathering of black Jackson delegates only to be serenaded with boos. “I respect him for what he did 20 years ago,” one of the delegates said of Young, “but 20 years later, things are not so good.” (“Jackson Rebukes Hecklers,” Milton Coleman, The Washington Post, July 19, 1984.)

Jackson enjoyed not just the media spotlight but also his new leverage.

He thus became the first African-American candidate to win any major-party state primary or caucus.

As he had gained 21 percent of the popular vote but only eight percent of delegates, Jackson afterwards complained that he had been handicapped by party rules. While Mondale (in the words of his aides) was determined to establish a precedent with his vice presidential candidate by picking a woman or visible minority, Jackson criticized the screening process as a “p.r. parade of personalities”. He also mocked Mondale, saying that Hubert Humphrey was the “last significant politician out of the St. Paul–Minneapolis” area.

He could now act as a broker on behalf of black voters, and Mondale, as the Democratic nominee, felt pressure to accommodate him, fearful of alienating a growing Democratic constituency. Jackson sought and won a change to delegate apportionment rules, which would increase his clout in a future campaign.