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Jesse Jackson Discusses Senator Barack Obama, Convention

Leading up to Barack Obama's speech tonight at Invesco field in Denver, Gwen Ifill sits down with Jesse Jackson to discuss the democratic process and the role Barack Obama is playing in this election.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Hi, Jim. I'm here with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who, of course, first made history 24 years ago as a very serious candidate for president in 1984. And now 24 years ago, Reverend Jackson, later, here you are.

    What are your impressions?

    REV. JESSE JACKSON (D), Former Presidential Candidate: Well, I'm excited beyond measure, not just because I thought those campaigns helped, as Reagan would say, tear the walls down.

    Before the walls, when they were up, if you tried to climb up, you were shot. If you tried to swim across the river, you were shot. But when the walls came down, East and West Berlin could reconnect.

    Now these walls are down, 18-year-olds can vote and bilingual can vote. Assisted disabled can vote, and so Barack is running this magnificent campaign of reconciliation, because it's the time for that.

    He brings to this a vision, and a message, and a timing quality that would surely make Dr. King rejoice.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    How did this happen so quickly? Four years ago, he could barely get access to the convention floor, even though he was giving that big speech. How did he build this so quickly?

  • REV. JESSE JACKSON:

    Well, it didn't happen so quickly. And you really think about this, he's running the last leg of a 54-year race.

    I mean, Thurgood Marshall, the walls came down in '54 legally. The '55 bus boycott challenging those laws. The '57 Little Rock boycott challenging those laws. And then, 10 years, we kept chipping away at the walls.

    In '64, Fannie Lou Hamer challenges the convention about an all-white delegation from Mississippi, chipping away. And then in '65, white women couldn't serve on juries in Alabama and blacks couldn't vote. And then 18-year-olds.

    And so it's been a 54-year struggle, and he's running the last lap of a relay race and doing, I might add, a magnificent run.