The University Record, April 12, 1999

'Save the dream'

By Jane R. Elgass
The Rev. Jesse Jackson with Provost Nancy Cantor (left) and Brenda Robinson (right), honor student, coordinator of the Jesse Jackson Programming Committee and Jackson's niece. Photo by Paul Jaronski, Photo Services

The Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed a standing-room-only crowd in Hill Auditorium last Friday that gave him a standing ovation at the outset. Invited to the U-M by a coalition of student organizations, Jackson stressed the need for continued activism in the fight to make the University a truly multicultural institution. Hearkening back a decade when "I stood with the students to make the University of Michigan look like Michigan," Jackson noted the struggle continues but applauded the University for its firm stance in the admissions lawsuits.

Speaking on a theme of "Save the Dream-Leave No American Behind," Jackson challenged the students to come together in collaboration 'to heal the breach, to make [America] a more perfect union. We can heal the breach by making it more perfect,' he said, "but first we must recognize that it's less than perfect."

Alluding to the funding battle in Michigan and other states between prisons and education, Jackson noted that it takes $10,000 a year to educate a person, $90,000 a year to lock that person up. "Of those in jail, 90 percent are dropouts and a similar number are illiterate. Of those with drug charges, one of 10 get treatment but 10 of 10 can get drugs.

"We must choose to seek education over incarceration," Jackson implored. "Let's choose diversity, a multicultural education. That's America."

Encouraging those who had not done so to come forward and register to vote, Jackson told them that by doing so, "You make a statement for America today. Vote where you live. You can stop the madness in Michigan if you register to vote. We're going to win the battle in Michigan for inclusion."

Organizations sponsoring Jackson's appearance included the Michigan Student Assembly, LS&A Student Government, Undergraduate Political Science Association, Bursley Council, West Quad Resident Assembly, Center for Afroamerican and African Studies Collective, Black Greek Association, Golden Key National Honors, U-M ACLU, Delta Sigma Theta, College Democrats and the U-M NAACP.