By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Civil rights leader and former Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson visited San Francisco Chinatown Wednesday to denounce anti-Asian hate.
The founder of the Rainbow Push Coalition attended a Solidarity in the Struggle Dinner-from Vincent Chin to George Floyd. Some 300 mostly Asian Americans attended the dinner at Chinatown’s Far East Cafe.
Nearly 40 years ago, Jackson used his national profile to amplify the case of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American killed with a baseball bat by two unemployed auto workers in Detroit who blamed Japan for the state of the U.S. auto industry. He came to the city and joined Vincent’s mother Lilly in denounce the incident. Many recall how Jackson consoled her with a hug.
Jackson spoke slowly and haltingly, informing the crowd that he’s lived with Parkinson’s Disease since 2017. The condition has impacted both his speech and his movement.
Jackson made comparisons between beatings and killing of Black men in the South to the fatal beating of Vincent Chin saying “your struggle is our struggle.”
Jackson said the killings of Chin, George Floyd and Emmitt Til, a 14-year old Black teen lynched in Mississippi in 1955, launched mass movements and struggle.
“There’s power in redemption and suffering,” he said.
Earlier in the day, he spoke to NBC Bay Area.
“Our nation is in turmoil today,” said Jackson. “America cannot survive unless we include everybody.”
His Rainbow Push Coalition has long advocated for a diverse America and unity between people of color and other oppressed people.
“A will to do justice. This is my life,” he said.
At the dinner, San Francisco Mayor London Breed recalled being just 10-years-old in 1984 and seeing her grandmother so excited that a Black man could run for the presidency. She said Jackson made it possible for a Black woman t be mayor of San Francisco. She said without Jackson, there would have been no Barack Obama.
The mayor recalled a time when both Blacks and Chinese could not attend San Francisco pubic schools. She said the parallels between the histories of the two communities are significant
“I know that it sometimes sounds a little corny, but it is so true,” she said. “Despite our differences in our challenges, we can still have a conversation coming from a place of love.”
Then speaking directly to Jackson, she said “we appreciate your love. We appreciate your advocacy. We appreciate your work. And we are grateful that you set out the courage and the faith to conquer the world.”
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