Jackson apologizes for use of 'n-word'

July 17, 2008 8:47:13 PM PDT
Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. has offered another apology.This time, it's for using a racial slur in an off-air break during a televised interview that he has campaigned against for years.

There are some who are wondering if the long-time civil rights leader can withstand this latest controversy.

During what is certainly a defining week in his long public life, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Spain. He went there days after the controversy over his comment about castrating Barack Obama. So the civil rights leader was in Europe when he found out that he was also caught on tape earlier this month describing African Americans in general with the plural "n-word."

Fox News has not aired the actual tape. But the cable network says Reverend Jesse Jackson used the "n-word" during an off-air session recorded by a live microphone. It was during the same conversation with another guest that Jackson was critical of Senator Barack Obama for "talking down" to African Americans.

Political consultant Don Rose, who has known Jackson since the mid-1960s, speculated the civil rights leader's ego might be bruised by Obama's sudden rise to prominence.

"Jesse has always been an outsized personality, larger than life, and part of that is a larger-than-life ego, as I'm sure he will recognize himself," Rose said.

In recent years, Jackson, who writes his own newspaper column and hosts his own television show, has been an outspoken critic of entertainers and public officials who used the "n-word." Activist Harold Davis demanded that Jackson be held to the same standard.

"We're going to issue a letter to the publisher of the sun times and ask that his column be canceled. We want him held by the same standards he held others by in using the "n" word," Davis said.

After Fox reported it had Jackson on tape using the "n-word," the Rainbow PUSH founder issued another apology from Spain.

"There is really no justification for my comments, and I hope that the Obama family and the American public will forgive me," said Jackson.

"You can't look at a mistake and then negate all the good things people have done. You have to take the good with the bad," said Harvey Loeb, Chicago resident.

It's unclear how the Jackson statements will affect fundraising for Rainbow PUSH, which held its national conference in Chicago earlier this month and reportedly has financial difficulties. Talk radio host Cliff Kelley said he believes Jackson can survive the controversy based on history in the civil rights struggle.

"He'll be a senior statesman, absolutely. You cannot take away the things this man has accomplished. There's no way you can," Kelley said.

Jackson regularly appears Saturday mornings for his live television program at Rainbow PUSH headquarters. It's still unclear if he'll host the program this week.


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