Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential run far exceeded expectations, and was marked by a legendary Democratic National Convention speech. We print our design, based on buttons from the campaign, on a thin, silver, 100% cotton tee, available in unisex and a woman's style.
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You must not surrender! You may or may not get there, but just know that you're qualified and hold on and hold out. We must never surrender! America will get better and better. Keep hope alive! Speech from the 1988 Democratic National Convention
The New York Times predicted 1988 would be remembered as the "Year of Jackson," the year when minister and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson (1941 - ) launched the most successful presidential campaign by an African-American ever seen in this country, an achievement not surpassed until the 2008 election of Barack Obama.
When we're unemployed, we're called lazy; when the whites are unemployed it's called a depression. Interview in David Frost's The Americans (1970)
From Jackson's ambitious but ultimately disjointed run in 1984 sprang a significantly more solid bid in 1988. Among a bland group of six Democratic primary contenders, Jackson's unabashed liberal agenda set him apart and galvanized the progressive base. Jackson proposed single-payer universal health care, as well as increased funding for education, child care and drug treatment programs - most of which would be financed by a return to pre-Reagan era corporate tax rates, tax increases for wealthy Americans and a freeze on defense spending.
Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders can change things. Speech from the 1984 Democratic National Convention
Jackson's appeal spread beyond African-Americans and die-hard progressives, particularly with his focus on economic equality and job growth. He advocated increased funding for job training and the creation of a massive new public works program.
Several primary and caucus wins - most notably a 2-1 upset in working-class Michigan - forced pundits as well as the national electorate to take Jackson seriously. He would amass victories in nearly a dozen contests, with several million votes overall.
If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it because I am somebody!
Respect me! Protect me! Never neglect me!
I am somebody!
My mind is a pearl! I can learn anything in the world!
Nobody can save us, from us, for us, but us!
I can learn. It is possible.
I ought to learn. It is moral.
I must learn. It is imperative. Speech at Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana, March 4, 1979
Though Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis would emerge as the Democrats' presidential nominee in 1988, Jackson's success, culminating in a now-legendary speech at the convention, cemented his position as a power broker within the party:
America is not a blanket woven from one thread, one color, one cloth.
When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina and grandmamma could not afford a blanket, she didn't complain and we did not freeze. Instead she took pieces of old cloth -- patches, wool, silk, gabardine, crockersack -- only patches, barely good enough to wipe off your shoes with. But they didn't stay that way very long. With sturdy hands and a strong cord, she sewed them together into a quilt, a thing of beauty and power and culture. Now, Democrats, we must build such a quilt.
Farmers, you seek fair prices and you are right -- but you cannot stand alone. Your patch is not big enough.
Workers, you fight for fair wages, you are right -- but your patch labor is not big enough.
Women, you seek comparable worth and pay equity, you are right -- but your patch is not big enough.
Women, mothers, who seek Head Start, and day care and prenatal care on the front side of life, relevant jail care and welfare on the back side of life, you are right -- but your patch is not big enough.
Students, you seek scholarships, you are right -- but your patch is not big enough.
Blacks and Hispanics, when we fight for civil rights, we are right -- but our patch is not big enough.
Gays and lesbians, when you fight against discrimination and a cure for AIDS, you are right -- but your patch is not big enough.
Conservatives and progressives, when you fight for what you believe, right wing, left wing, hawk, dove, you are right from your point of view, but your point of view is not enough.
But don't despair. Be as wise as my grandmamma. Pull the patches and the pieces together, bound by a common thread. When we form a great quilt of unity and common ground, we'll have the power to bring about health care and housing and jobs and education and hope to our Nation.
We, the people, can win.
1988 Democratic National Convention Address, July 19, 1988, Omni Coliseum, Atlanta GA
"Jesse Jackson is a serious candidate for the presidency. He was always serious; it was just the political scientists and the other politicians who belittled his campaign, trivialized his efforts and disdained his prospects. Despite the contempt and condescension of the media -- or perhaps because of it -- Jackson went to the most remote and isolated grass roots in the American social landscape to find the strength for a campaign that has already begun to transform politics. For five years his distance from the funders, the managers, the mediators and the consultants who manipulate the Democratic Party and legitimize its candidates has allowed Jackson to do unimaginable things and say unspeakable words -- about race, about class, about equality and, indeed, about democracy. To an extent that may be unique in presidential elections in this century, he derives his power from the people. The enormous energy that his campaign releases has created a new populist moment, overtaking the languid hours and dull days of conventional politics and imagining possibilities for substantial change beyond the usual incremental transactions of the two-party system. It offers hope against cynicism, power against prejudice and solidarity against division. It is the specific antithesis to Reaganism and reaction, which, with the shameful acquiescence of the Democratic center, have held America in their thrall for most of this decade and which must now be defeated. For that reason, The Nation is endorsing Jesse Jackson for the Democratic nomination for President."
The Nation, April 1988