The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Monday that high school students must learn and work together despite their differences if they want to change their lives.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Monday that high school students must learn and work together despite their differences if they want to change their lives.
The civil rights leader and Greenville native spoke to students at Southside High School on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War.
In a telephone interview after his speech, Jackson said he told students that the states’ rights mentality that propelled the country into Civil War is still at work.
"The states’ rights forces never gave up on their design to undermine civil rights and to maintain control over labor, education and health care as states’ rights," Jackson said. He referred specifically to current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s fight with organized state workers over bargaining rights.
"The Civil War was a kind of earthquake in which more Americans were killed than World War I and World War II, but the tremors continue," Jackson said. "There are other cases around the country where they refuse to use money from the federal government because of the anti-federal government" sentiment.
South Carolina’s former Gov. Mark Sanford was famously forced by a lawsuit to accept federal stimulus money that he rejected, saying it would increase the nation’s debt.
Still, Jackson said, there are some signs of progress even in his home state, where public schools were not integrated until the early 1970s — nearly two decades after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
"It’s good to see children, black and white, brown and Asian learning together," Jackson said. "That’s part of the face of the new South."
Jackson said he also told students about their personal responsibility to stay away from drugs.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.