Rainbow Coalition Speech Transcript at 1984 DNC – Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson gave a speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. The speech declares that he wanted to create a “Rainbow Coalition” of various minority groups.
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Jesse Jackson: (00:00)
Tonight we come together bound by our faith in a mighty God, with genuine respect and love for our country, and inheriting the legacy of a great party, the Democratic Party, which is the best hope for redirecting our nation on a more humane, just, and peaceful course. This is not a perfect party. We’re not a perfect people. Yet, we are called to a perfect mission. Our mission to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to house the homeless, to teach the illiterate, to provide jobs for the jobless, and to choose the human race over the nuclear race.
Jesse Jackson: (01:01)
We are gathered here this week to nominate a candidate and adopt a platform which will expand, unify, direct, and inspire our party and the nation to fulfill this mission. My constituency is the desperate, the damned, the disinherited, the disrespected, and the despised. They are restless and seek release. They have voted in record numbers. They’ve invested the faith, hope, and trust that they have in us. The Democratic Party must send them a signal that we care. I pledge my best not to let them down.
Jesse Jackson: (01:48)
There is the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity. Leadership must heed the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity, for they are the key to achieving our mission. Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things. No generation can choose the age or circumstance in which it is born, but through leadership it can choose to make the age in which it is born an age of enlightenment, an age of jobs, peace, and justice.
Jesse Jackson: (02:34)
Only leadership, that intangible combination of gifts, the discipline, information, circumstance, courage, timing, will, and divine inspiration can lead us out of the crisis in which we find ourselves. Leadership can mitigate the misery of our nation. The leadership can part the waters and lead our nation in the direction of the Promised Land. Leadership can lift the boats stuck at the bottom.
Jesse Jackson: (03:08)
I’ve had the rare opportunity to watch seven men and then two, pour out their souls, offer their service and heal, and heed the call of duty to direct the course of our nation. There was a proper season for everything. There was a time to sow and a time to reap. There’s a time to compete and a time to cooperate. I asked for your vote on the first ballot as a vote for a new direction for this party and this nation. A vote of conviction, a vote of conscience.
Jesse Jackson: (03:48)
But I will be proud to support the nominee of this convention for the President of the United States of America. I have watched the leadership of our party develop and grow. My respect for both Mr. Mondale and Mr. Hart is great. I’ve watched them struggle with the crosswinds and crossfires of being public servants. I believe they will both continue to try to serve us faithfully. I’m elated by the knowledge that for the first time in our history a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, will be recommended to share our ticket.
Jesse Jackson: (04:46)
Throughout this campaign, I’ve tried to offer leadership to the Democratic Party and the nation. If in my high moments, I have done some good, offered some service, shared some light, healed some wounds, rekindled some hope, or stirred someone from apathy and indifference, or in any way along the way helped somebody, then this campaign has not been in vain. For friends who loved and cared for me, for a God who spared me, and for a family who understood, I’m eternally grateful.
Jesse Jackson: (05:31)
If in my low moments, in word, deed, or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I’ve caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone’s fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my grape turned into a raisin, and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart.