Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr brings Main Street to Wall Street, Jan. 13-15.
Jackson, a Baptist Minister, Civil Rights Leader, Political Activist, founder and President of Rainbow/Push begins his days early and ends them late, no matter which city or town he happens to be in. This is his life's work and he has so much more to do.
"Banks get bailed out, home owners get turned out," said Jackson on one of his many stops in the Northeast recently while getting ready to launch the 13th annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, in New York City Wednesday January 13 through Friday January 15th.
Since 1996, the Wall Street Project has shifted the paradigm on how business is conducted in America. Underserved communities, historically locked out of business opportunity and considered merely a philanthropic beneficiary by the Corporate America, are now more and more viewed as "value added," and potential growth markets. The Wall Street Project is changing how America does business.
In 2010, 45,000 people will die due to lack of health insurance and access to affordable health care. On any given night in the US, approximately 664,000 people are homeless, and young adults use the jailhouse as a homeless shelter. A life of dignity is still denied to ex-cons, welfare reform regulations can separate not unify families, and the quality of the teachers and the elementary school your child attends can determine their future. We all need to work harder towards equality.
2010 marks the 50th anniversary of Jackson's 1960 arrest for the unmitigated audacity of trying to enter a public library in a segregated state, the arrest that along with others in the coming years marked him as a civil rights leader. Jackson speaks of marching on Washington, of being with Dr. Martin Luther King on that fateful day in 1968, and then switching to contemporary issues like the disenfranchisement of our youths, the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars both in human lives and misdirected trillions of dollars, and the deregulation of our financial institutions, costing us billions and the banking morass that has left millions in its wake.
Some see Jackson as a prophet of our time, lending his oratory skills and presence to extol the mantra of equal opportunities for all people, while others see him as divisive. As much as we like to think we have moved forward, we have a short and rocky history with equal rights in this country.
The Reaganomics of the 1980's, where deregulation and the trickle down theory helped only those at the highest levels, where mental health and detox centers closed to those most in need. The 1990s, where the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that tightened financial regulations was repealed in 1999, and Wall Street has been living with abandon ever since.
Banks and lending institutions aren't doing what they need to do. It has become easier and more profitable for institutions to wait out the struggling homeowner being turned out instead of trying to come up with solutions. Security payments, bailout funds, private mortgage insurance, more fees tacked onto swollen payment notices swell the bottom lines, while callers spend hours rotating on the phone without resolving the problem. Where is the incentive for banks to help?
Same goes for student loans. The banks are paying zero percent on loans, yet charge students the maximum at a time when there is less financial aid amid the rising cost to attend college or universities. The middle class continues to hemorrhage while bonus payments are being shelled out to the same people who triggered the need for TARP and the Stimulus monies to save their companies' proverbial butts.
2010 also marks the year when there are more people uninsured, unemployed or underemployed than any time since the 1980's, and we all know how well that went.