In the 1980s, the political and cultural agenda has been marked by the entrance of Jesse Jackson into an arena usually reserved for more traditionally, and political oriented, candidates. On one side of the dichotomous political relationship is a range of traditional civil rights organizations. This group argues that racism has become so interwoven in the very social and political fabric of America that measures that are aggressive (affirmative actions) are necessary in the areas of politics, economics, and education. The antithesis to this view is the conservative bastion of the Reagan and Bush administrations that,
have been arguing for defining 'civil rights' in the narrowest possible terms as the strictly legal right of individuals not to be intentionally discriminated against in voting or seeking employment or housing. Accordingly, they claim that mechanisms such as affirmative action and special setaside programs for minorities are illegitimate because these mechanisms are colorconscious rather than colorblind . . . Further, they assert that traditional civil rights groups and leaders have strayed from their legitimate roles because they concern themselves with political, economic, educational, and even foreign policy issues rather than with civil rights, narrowly conceived.1
Into this dilemma is the personage and ideology of Jesse Jackson. This paper will focus primarily on the media attention and interpretations Jesse Jackson has received since the presidential election of 1988. The paper will begin with a background of Jackson the man, move to the issue of his charismatic leadership, his views and interpretations of the politics of race and class, his character, his own 1988 campaign, and will conclude with a case study of the way media portrays Jackson and the resulting analysis in the guise of public opinion.
Jackson himself was born October 8, 1941, in Greenville, South Carolina. He was a highschool stu...