Book excerpt: Jacqueline L. Jackson's 'Loving You, Thinking of You, Don't Forget to Pray'

This is an excerpt from Rev. Jesse Jackson's wife's new book.

This is an excerpt from Jacqueline L. Jackson's new book, "Loving You, Thinking of You, Don't Forget to Pray: Letters to My Son in Prison." Jackson is the wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and the mother of former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Published with permission.

NOVEMBER 23, 2013

Dear Son,

. . . [Deletion]

I shopped for groceries today; at least 9 strangers asked about you. . . . [Deletion]

Many are angry. Especially when the Congressman in Florida was caught, and I was told by media, taped purchasing over $200.00 worth of cocaine—and was given probation and allowed to keep his seat, while others are serving time for doing the same thing.

Several people have called to tell us of a Congressman who sent his daughter to college with his campaign fund and is still sitting comfortably in Congress. Others are allowed to pay back millions of dollars to the government . . . [Deletion]

It is sad to know many of us are witnessing the disparities between rich and poor, upper class and underclass, those on the inside and those on the outside. The very worst that has happened in our alleged civil society is hunger and homelessness.

To close schools, knowing children go there to get a hot breakfast and lunch with no other food options is by far the most inhuman act I have heard. Curses, curses, curses on all who have participated in this heartless act.

I thank God for the many information networks . . . the truth is becoming clearer & closer.

It’s called the God Factor. When there is a gap, God will step in.


Now some clarity for you . . . I love you today more than I did the day you were born. When I think of you, I smile and my heart is warmed. God protects you and loves you. You broke man’s rule, which man calls the law.

When I lived in Fort Pierce, Florida as a child, the police would come to the houses of blacks and they would shout, “Open the door in the name of the law!” as they kicked in the door—without a search warrant. They were all white. “The Law” was segregation, discrimination, and any act of intimidation that helped to maintain low achievement and low aspirations. These rules helped create “laws that maintained the status quo,” not justice, not fairness, and certainly not peace—but business as usual.

I saw this, you didn’t. I am not deceived. I don’t want you to be confused about rules & laws. God has Law, man has rules . . . Only a perfect spirit can create Laws.


If God’s Law prevailed, a man could not shoot a child—an unarmed child—in cold blood and leave the courtroom exonerated, with his pistol at his side. [Deletion] In Florida, a football player seeking help because his car broke down, is shot down by police. I can go on and on. We are functioning by man’s rules and everything is upside down. Man is imperfect; he can’t make Laws, only imperfect rules.



DECEMBER 10, 2013

My Son,

How are you?

All the world today is Mandela! I am happy he has made it into that place in history for those who have made the greatest sacrifice of selflessness. To lay down one’s life for his fellow man . . . is the greatest deed.

You realize how long I have been angry with Mandela for leaving Winnie; but after the "Frontline" piece, I am even more sad.

I saw Winnie today -- her demeanor was unrecognizable. The Winnie I have known through the years has always been poised, with zeal, passion, and self-assurance. She always radiated a level of confidence that was contagious and electrifying. This morning when I saw her, my heart hurt for her. She appeared defeated and confused.

I felt her loss to be greater than just Mandela’s death, but that and the death of their togetherness.

The Frontline story spent time discussing their relationship, which helped me understand his dilemma.

The documentary said the relationship was strained because of her infidelity. It seems while he was in prison, there were rumors; and Mandela had defended her honor as best he could.

I had excused her behavior because he was jailed for life. A life sentence should allow some exceptions.

Then, here is another dilemma. If Winnie believed the movement would be victorious, then would her conduct reflect a wife anxious for her husband’s return or release?

That, in itself, created conflicting messages to the people. For a while, she stopped visiting Mandela at the prison. When he was released, she continued her behavior. The final straw was a visit to the USA: A tour that he pleaded with her not to take. The report said, “He begged her not to take.”

He, Mandela, called the hotel late at night and the man she was accused of seeing answered the phone. Then all hell broke loose. Mandela left her after she pleaded with him not to.

Now my opinion was shaped by the interview I saw one night. Winnie said, “My husband has forgiven all those who have hurt our people, yet he has no space in his heart to forgive me.”

Her words shaped for me a very negative opinion of Mr. Mandela. However, upon learning this new information, I don’t see how he would have maintained the respect of his peers with such an uncontrollable situation.

I now understand what he did. Otherwise, his effectiveness would have been diminished.

Now, I regret having judged him. Winnie’s strength, and her independence, began to weaken his and her purpose.

A purposeful life is always larger than the person. A personal life is always the size of the person.

The God Factor . . .

Mr. Mandela was in prison for 27 years without contact with the outside world. Mrs. Winnie Mandela was his voice.

History must say it was her guidance and leadership that lead to the freedom of Mandela and his country.

Only God can take a crooked stick and hit a straight lick.

My Love, My Heart . . .

My thoughts are always with you,