Reverend Jesse Jackson has urged the Democratic Party to unite behind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in spite of his long association with former candidate Bernie Sanders.
Speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Jackson congratulated Sanders for "energizing" the election with "ideas and hope," but pledged his support for Clinton. Jackson had until this week refused to endorse any candidate, but was widely thought to be more sympathetic to Vermont Sen. Sanders.
In 1988, Sanders endorsed Jackson's own campaign for the presidency.
Jackson's speech to delegates emphasized the idea that white, left-wing voters would succeed only with the support of other racial and ethnic groups. Quoting a speech of his own from 1984, Jackson said that "[w]hen blacks register, progressive whites win. [...] We must come together. When we all come together, we can and will win." He also spoke warmly of Clinton's support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and of her support for historically black colleges.
Speaking to PRI.org and the BBC after his speech, Jackson contrasted Clinton's record on diversity with Republican nominee Donald Trump's.
"The influence that people of color will have on Trump will be none. His [Republican] convention had 2,500 delegates, and 18 of them were African American. So you have to judge on the record." In fact there were 2,472 delegates at the Republican National Convention. The Washinton Post confirmed the 18 count prior to the convention, noting that the percentage of black GOP delegates hasn't been this low in decades.
Jackson also put this year's election into historical context, warning Sanders' supporters not to let their differences with Clinton create an opportunity for Trump. "You either vote for Hillary or vote for Trump. We've been here before — in 1968 we couldn't come together and Nixon eased in the side door. [In] 1980, we could't make up our mind and Reagan eased in the side door. To not vote for Hillary is to vote for Trump."