Skip to main content

Reply to "Illegal Immigration"

Jackson seeks to build strong Black-Latino coalition in U.S.

by Leslie Jones McCloud
Chicago Defender

CHICAGO (NNPA) - One month after Mexican President Vicente Fox angered some African-American activists with his comments about Black workers, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. announced that he will lead a trade mission to America's neighbor in order to seek business for Black companies.

Emphasizing the need for a strong Black-Latino alliance in the U.S., Jackson was joined by Carlos de Icaza, Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., in making the announcement.

Jackson likened today's goal to that of the relationship between the Dr. Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez.

''We must build a world class bridge. For too long we have had shared interest but we have not effectively built this strategic alliance,'' Jackson said.

Part of Jackson's plan includes getting African American children to learn Spanish and increasing the number of Latino children who speak English.

Additional issues include teaching Black and Latino children nonviolence and to avoid gang warfare; cultural exchanges; organizing religious leaders from both ethnic groups; and fighting for affirmative action.

But the most critical issues that Fox has focused on have been the illegal immigration reforms being tossed about on Capitol Hill. Jackson said he is willing to work with Fox and other Latino leaders to help craft a sensible immigration policy that isn't as harsh to undocumented workers.

''The challenge is to build a legal way for people to migrate, so people
can come back and forth,'' de Icaza said at a news conference, and later
at the business luncheon at the 34th annual Rainbow/PUSH conference.

de Icaza said he will work with Jackson and a Black-Latino coalition to solve many issues that the nation's two largest minorities have in common.

''I am here to show respect and appreciation to African Americans and Operation PUSH. There is no reason (we) cannot be friends and brothers.
(African Americans) have a great history in the United States, with
(civil rights),'' he said.

He emphasized the importance of the ''human dimension'' in a relationship with African Americans. One area that the two groups can work on in the short-term is trade.

''We have with the United States, the biggest trade agreement on earth. We buy American goods more than Japan and the United Kingdom combined,'' de Icaza said. ''We have trade to protect.''

Rev. James T. Meeks, a state senator and vice president of PUSH, brought humor and insight to the somewhat strained relationship African-Americans and Latinos have shared over the past few weeks.

He compared it to the relationship between the former Los Angeles Lakers teammates Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

''Without cooperation, we will be at home like Shaq and Kobe - sitting at home watching others play,'' he said to a laughing audience at the business luncheon.

Jackson also said a strong Black-Latino alliance can play a role in the
reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2007.

''The result of the Voting Rights Act created a historic rise in African –American and Latino elected officials around the nation,'' Jackson said.
He said the alliance is timely because combined, African-Americans and Latinos make up more than a majority of the populations in the country's largest 75 cities.

''He said, When we work together we can finish the unfinished business of our movement the constitutional right to vote, the constitutional rights to health care and education and the right to organize and breathe free.''