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Jesse Jackson Explains His Tears For Obama

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Standing with more than 200,000 Obama supporters in Grant Park Tuesday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson cried as learned that Barack Obama would become America's first African-American president.

The veteran civil rights leader, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, explained his tears in an interview with National Public Radio (as transcribed by the Tribune's Mark Silva):

"Well, on the one hand, I saw President Barack Obama standing there looking so majestic. And I knew that people in the villages of Kenya and Haiti, and mansions and palaces in Europe and China, were all watching this young African-American male assume the leadership to take our nation out of a pit to a higher place.

"And then, I thought of who was not there,'' Jackson said on NPR News' Tell Me More. "As mentioned, Medgar Evers, the husband of Sister Myrlie. ...So the martyrs and murdered whose blood made last night possible. I could not help think that this was their night.

"And if I had one wish: if Medgar, or if Dr. King could have just been there for a second in time, would have made my heart rejoice. And so it was kind of duo-fold - his ascension into leadership and the price that was paid to get him there."