Transcript of Rev. Jesse Jackson's Convention Speech

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, a veteran of Democratic conventions, fired up the delegates in Los Angeles tonight in a speech targeted at Republicans and their presidential nominee, George W. Bush. Read a full transcript of his remarks here.

Rev. Jesse Jackson:

The long arm of justice reaches neither for the political left nor the political right, but for the moral center. Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? Politics asks the question, Will it work? Can I win? Morality and conscience ask the question, Is it right? In the end, if it is morally right, politics and popularity has to adjust to the unyielding power of the moral center.

There was a left and right in slavery but no moral center, a left and a right in denying women the right to vote but no moral center.

Tonight we gather here in Los Angeles, home to dream makers who entice the world, but also home of the janitors and sanitary workers who clean up your world. Los Angeles, home of a handful of America’s richest people and hundreds of America’s poorest workers.

This Democratic convention is set in that great divide between Beverly Hills and South Central, between the dream makers and dream breakers. And we commit ourselves today to make America better, to stand with the janitors who had to strike to get a dollar more an hour, to stand with the hotel workers who work every day but don’t get health care. We are on your side.

Two weeks ago, in Philadelphia, the nation was treated to a staged show—smoke, mirrors, hired acts the Republicans called inclusion. That was the inclusion illusion.

In Philadelphia …


… diversity ended on that stage. They could not mention the words “Africa,” “Appalachia” or “AIDS” once.

So it’s good to be in Los Angeles, to look over this great assembly and see the real deal, the quilt with many patches that is America. There are 1,000 union workers here …


… a thousand African Americans, 1,000 Latinos and Asian Americans. As many women as men...


America’s working families are here, headed by a Southern Baptist and an Orthodox Jew. This is America’s dream team, the Democratic Party.

In this diversity is our strength. Mr. Bush stood with Jefferson Davis and the Confederate flag in South Carolina and Abe Lincoln and the American flag in Baltimore, but Mr. Gore and Lieberman can say: One America, one flag.

Last week, when Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman as his running mate, he stood up for justice. He appealed to the best in America. In selecting Joe Lieberman, Al Gore has brought the sons and daughters of slaves and slave master together with the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors, women fighting for self-determination, workers fighting for wage security and dignity.

Al Gore has raised the moral chin bar. When a barrier falls to one of the locked out, it opens doors for all.

I’ve devoted much of my life striving to bring light to dark places. Four decades ago, on July 17, 1960, I was jailed with several of my classmates, trying to use a library in Greenville, South Carolina. On July 17, 1984, I addressed you in San Francisco.

We’ve come a long way. We are making America better.

I know something about the tides of change. I moved with it when the tide was coming in, and labored against it when it was flowing out. I’ve seen enough and done enough to know when the moment is right for history to be made again.

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