Friday, January 19, 2001
Jackson backing strong locally
Main response: forgiveness
By Richelle Thompson
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Disappointed Tristate supporters say the Rev. Jesse Jackson remains a strong voice for justice and equality, despite the revelation that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child.
Local social justice activists preach a message of forgiveness, saying no person is without sin.
A lot of people will take this opportunity to say, "Yeah, I told you so. He's not what he's supposed to be,' said Barbara Lynch, director of Christian education at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage. But African-Americans will forgive him, go on and support him. He's one of our most visible, most vocal advocates, and we can't afford to have that voice silenced.
The Rev. Mr. Jackson worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., ran twice for president and is one of the most prominent civil rights leaders today. At about the same time the Rev. Mr. Jackson was counseling President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the married minister was having his own affair with an aide.
The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth has known the Rev. Mr. Jackson since the 1950s, when the two fought together on the front lines of the civil rights battle with Dr. King.
I'm disappointed in him, said the Rev. Mr. Shuttlesworth, pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in North Avondale. But I have to say, "There but for the grace of God go I.'
There is not a person on Earth who has not sinned or will not sin, he said. People should confess their sins to God and be forgiven.
A Christian is a sinner trying to be a saint, the Rev. Mr. Shuttlesworth said. Belief in God is the basic thing. Temptation is always around, trying to trap us.
Even if people have fallen or sinned, God still has plans for their lives. In the fight against oppression and discrimination, the Rev. Mr. Jackson is doing the will of God regardless of his indiscretion, the Rev. Mr. Shuttlesworth said.
He also cautioned against people who will try to use the incident to their advantage.
Anybody who rejoices over this pitfall in Jesse's life is not a good Christian, the Rev. Mr. Shuttlesworth said. Christians rejoice in hope and pray for each other and realize that all of us are on the same road.... This nation ought to be be praying for men who make mistakes because we all want to be good if we can.
Harvey: All are sinners
The Rev. H.L. Harvey also preaches a message of forgiveness. The Rev. Mr. Jackson and the Rev. Mr. Harvey have been friends for 30 years and worked together to start the local chapter of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a social justice advocacy group. The Rev. Mr. Harvey, minister at New Friendship Baptist Church in Avondale, leads the local coalition and serves on the national board.
All of us have skeletons in our closet, all of us, he said. Whether it's running a stop sign or getting somebody pregnant, sin is sin.
Norma Holt Davis, Cincinnati's new president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, declined to comment. Sheila Adams, president of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, said the Rev. Mr. Jackson has a track record of doing positive work in the community. She said she won't comment on his personal life.
Bond Hill businessman Steven Reece, a friend and political ally of the Rev. Mr. Jackson for more than 20 years, said he and others close to the civil rights leader have known about the child since 1999.
It's kind of an old story for us, said Mr. Reece, who was a key campaign aide in the Rev. Mr. Jackson's 1984 and 1988 bids for the Democratic presidential nomination.
We've known about it; his family has known about it, said Mr. Reece, the father of Cincinnati Councilwoman Alicia Reece, said, If his wife and family have forgiven, who am I to say he is wrong?
Enquirer reporter Howard Wilkinson contributed.
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