This interview has been conducted between Mona Shah and Associates, PLLC and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Rev. Jackson is a well-known and respected U.S. political figure and civil rights activist who has worked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help end the Jim Crow Era of the US, worked with multiple world leaders to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and the release of Nelson Mandela in 1980s and 1990s. He is also a successful hostage negotiator, advocate, public speaker, Baptist Minister, husband and father in addition to all the accolades his illustrious career.
- Throughout your career as a spokesman, activist, and officeholder you have done so much to help those in underserved communities. For those who are unaware of what you do and have done, please tell us a little more.
After graduating from NC A&T in 1964, I enrolled in the Chicago Theological Seminary but left in 1966 to devote myself full time to the Civil Rights Movement where I had the honor and privilege of working with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1971, I organized the Black Expo in Chicago, which was attended by black businessmen from 40 states, and politicians from across the country. Later that year I organized Operation PUSH, People United to Save Humanity, which helped me form the Rainbow Coalition when I ran for office in 1983. In 1984 and 1988, I ran for US president, leading successful campaigns that ultimately got important issues on the forefront of the national agenda. I later served as shadow U.S. Senator for the District of Columbia from 1991-1997, during which I started Rainbow PUSH, and in 2000 Bill Clinton honored me with Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- What is Rainbow PUSH?
Well, I realized that both organizations that I started, Operation PUSH and the Rainbow Coalition, could be more effective as one. As a result, in 1996 I decided to merge them into Rainbow PUSH. Now as dynamic organization, Rainbow PUSH fights for social change by engaging in multi-racial issues, progressive issues and issues of international concern. Early on, I began to employ the business community in my activism, through encouraging opportunities and providing resources to create an effective network of minority businesses, investors, and communities in need of development.
- What made you become so active politically, to ultimately be one of the foremost leaders in civil rights activism?
Growing up in the Jim Crow South, and after the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, I realized that we have the power in each of us to unite and bring an end to injustice and all forms of oppression. It is people who have placed the chains of oppression on us, and people who can grasp the key to open the lock. Throughout college and at Chicago Theological Seminar, I remained active in local protests, and sought to continue my work in the never-ending fight for peace and justice on the national and international level.
- What is the connection between Rainbow PUSH and finance?
Significant financing is needed for projects throughout urban communities in the United States. The Urban Community is a greenfield that has never been grazed and the the EB5 Immigrant Investment Program is a gateway to opportunity for all involved. There is no such thing as a foreigner in my eyes– science has dwarfed distance with technology. Culture, music, sports, brands are all a global experience.
EB5 investors are truly “Value Adding Immigrants” who are eager to tap into areas of the United States that have been traditionally under served. There is no shortage of intellect, income, talent, thriving markets, industries or prime locations in these communities, but there there is still a need to connect great opportunities with the financing. The sky is the limit if we put our heads together and build the solid platforms with the financial leverage to create springboards for real growth and widespread prosperity.
Gentrification can create beneficial outcomes as long as the people who have been inhabiting these communities are included in the revitalization process. Maximizing the potential of our Human Capital and democratizing global access to financial capital are the natural next steps for this nation. Reverend Jackson’s Wall Street Project will serve as a catalyst to connect “Value Adding Immigrants” to our greenfield in Urban Communities.
The Wall Street project works to provide opportunities to those in minority communities and minority businesses by exposing investors to high value projects to use the power of capitalism to foster economic growth. Rainbow PUSH via the Wall Street Project accomplishes this in the pension fund, private equity and hedge fund space, using large capital stacks to deliver returns to investors from projects employing their services for additional financing. These financial service firms also see the enormous value coming out of these developments that we hope to bring to the forefront of the investment community.
Not only will the investment lead to improved economic conditions, there is a synergistic relationship in the cycle of this investment.
Finance and strategic investment is growing tremendously as a share of the US economy. Its importance to communities around the country are undoubted, and has advanced with the opening of global capital markets. With the rise of global trade, now foreign investors are able to see the vast array of opportunities here in the US. Furthermore, by investing in these projects, more jobs will be created, and value is delivered to both the community and back to the investors. As such, there have been a multitude of investment ideas that have provided communities with much needed jobs to bring them out of their previously distressed situations improving their economic outlook. Consequently, more capital flies to these areas seeking these high return investments, and people will be empowered to cultivate their entrepreneurial spirits to the benefit of the community with the potential to create even more attractive much needed projects. Currently, these projects already exist in the form of infrastructure, housing, software, and retail projects amongst many others, waiting for an injection of investment capital. As we have seen, project managers, owners, and developers are now competing to develop projects that are delivering even greater returns. If we can continue this process throughout the country in these communities, we can start to achieve our goals as an organization and a nation in fostering prosperity.