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Ben Jealous: Rev. Jesse Jackson Is Hospitalized with COVID-19. “We’re All Praying for Him.”

StoryAugust 24, 2021
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Civil rights and voting rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Chicago. Jackson is fully vaccinated and has Parkinson’s disease. During the pandemic, he has pushed for healthcare for all, and said in a statement, “After 400 years of slavery, segregation and discrimination, why would anybody be shocked that African Americans are dying disproportionately from the coronavirus?” We speak with Jackson’s friend, Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way and former president of the NAACP. “This is a guy who for 60, 70 years has done nothing but serve the people of this country,” says Jealous. “I hope we’re all praying for him now.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Ben, before we go, I just want to ask you about civil rights, voting rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson, who reportedly has COVID-19, along with his wife Jackie. They’re under doctors’ observation at a Chicago hospital. He also has Parkinson’s. They were both fully vaccinated. If you could just comment, someone who has fought for also healthcare for all?

BEN JEALOUS: Jesse got me started when I was 14 years old. Jackie is a saint. Jesse is a unique power in our country. And when I left the NAACP, I became a social impact investor in the Silicon Valley. At that time, I was one of 36 Black men in the country who could write a check to start a new tech company. Jesse Jackson literally opened up the floodgates for Blacks to come into investing in tech by just simply showing up at shareholder meetings and sharing the likes —

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

BEN JEALOUS: — and shaming the likes of Google. This is a guy who, for 60, 70 years, has done nothing but serve the people of this country. I hope that we’re all praying for him now.

AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous, thanks so much for joining us, president of People for the American Way, former president of the NAACP. And that does it for our show. I’m Amy Goodman. Wear a mask. Stay safe.

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