Political activist and former presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson ripped suspended Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson in a statement on Wednesday, saying his actions were worse than that of the bus driver who denied service to Rosa Parks, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law,” Jackson said in his statement. “Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege.'”
Jackson’s remarks effectively serve as a rebuke to Illinois Republican congressional candidate Ian Bayne’s Dec. 20 email to supporters calling Robertson “the Rosa Parks of our generation” for what Bayne portrayed as an attempt to withstand persecution of Christians.
While various Republican figures have tried to defend Robertson’s statements to GQ magazine regarding homosexuality by arguing that he was expressing his religious beliefs, there has been less attention paid to his allegations that Black people he knew were “singing and happy” while living under Louisiana’s Jim Crow laws.
“I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word,” Robertson told GQ. “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Jackson’s statement also called for executives at A&E Network, which airs Robertson’s show, and Cracker Barrel, which sells Duck Dynasty-related merchandise, to meet with himself and representatives from not only his organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, but the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Organization for Women.
“It is unacceptable that a personality who has been given such a large platform would benefit from racist and anti-gay comments,” the statement read.
Cracker Barrel reversed course on Sunday and resumed selling the show’s merchandise after fans of the program complained.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]