Apostolic Church of God
Chicago, Illinois

3:00 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon.  Please have a seat. 

I said to the Congressman: I didn’t know he could preach like that.  (Applause.)  

Oh, good afternoon, everyone.  I want to thank the Congressman for that extraordinary presentation — (applause) — and for his work.  I recently had the Congressman at my home for dinner.  And we talked about his father, and we talked about his vision, as the son of the father, for the future of our country. 

And I have seen him at work when the cameras are on and when the cameras are off in Washington, D.C., doing the work of representing his district.  And he truly, truly is a national leader.  Thank you, Congressman, for that introduction.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Dr. Byron Brazier and First Lady for the warm welcome here — (applause) — at Apostolitic [Apostolic] Church of God. 

I want to thank Mayor Brandon Johnson, who I knew could not be with hu- — us today, but he has been a true champion for working families, and I want to recognize him.  (Applause.)

And to the members of Congress who are here, the state and local elected leaders, and all of the folks who are part of the leadership of this beautiful community and our nation, I thank you.  And for that warm welcome, thank you.  (Applause.) 

I also must and — and it is my joy to congratulate Reverend Dr. Freddy Haynes.  (Applause.)  So, I have known him and worked with him for over 20 years, including when we worked together years and years ago in the early days of the criminal justice reform movement.  And I am so confident in his leadership and his ability to carry on the greatest traditions of this organization and to meet the challenges of this moment.  Congratulations, Reverend Haynes.  (Applause.)

And now, to my friend, our friend, our great leader, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and his incredible family, including Mrs. Jackie Jackson: I want to thank you all for the leadership that you continue to provide.  Yours is a family of service and sacrifice and always inspiring the people around our nation.  And I thank you for that. 

And a special thank you to Santita.  Where is Santita?  Santita and I were students at Howard University together — (laughs) — (applause) — and she was a leader on campus back then. 

So, it is good to be with everyone. 

So, today we celebrate one of America’s greatest patriots, someone who deeply believes in the promise of our country, a fighter for freedom and human rights for all people.  At the core of Rev’s work is the belief that the diversity of our nation is not a weakness or an afterthought, but instead, our greatest strength.

In his life’s work, he has reinforced that no matter who we are or where we come from, we have so much more in common than what separates us.  The — the point is that if we as a society are to come together, to work together, to fight together in common cause for the freedom, rights, and justice of all people, we must make our communities stronger.  We must build a stronger nation.  And, as a result, we will have a stronger democracy and a stronger world. 

And it is with this understanding, this vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been, that Rev has dedicated his life to building that coalition, from Washington, D.C., to California; from the Mississippi Delta to Appalachia; from South Africa to the South Side of Chicago.  (Applause.)  He has and continues to bring together people of all backgrounds: Black Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, farmers, LGBTQ+ Americans, Native Americans, women, labor union members, people with disabilities, our young leaders, and people around the world.  (Applause.)  That has been the work of Reverend Jesse Jackson. 

And early on — just think about it.  Early on, he even had the audacity to name this coalition the National Rainbow Coalition.  (Applause.)  Think about that.  He defined the rainbow.  He was one of the first to define the rainbow.

A coalition to push the values of democracy and liberty and equality and justice not from the top down, but from the bottom up and the outside in.  (Applause.)  He has built coalitions that expanded who has a voice and a seat at the table.  And in so doing, he has expanded our democracy — the democracy of our nation. 

And he has done this work his whole life, always understanding that being clear-eyed is so important and, in particular, the importance of living in a way that we understand we must be present if we are to have a future. 

He has always been clear-eyed about the moment we are in.  Think about it.  As an 18-year-old, at the height of segregation, Rev brought people together at the Greenville Public Library sit-in.  (Applause.) 

And he continued this work around the country and around the globe, whether it was to expand rights for farmworkers and increase wages for care workers, to increase access to capital for small-business owners, to make boardrooms on Wall Street reflect the diversity of our nation, or to help end the sin of apartheid, to help secure the relief of hostages, and empower entrepreneurs across the United States and the continent of Africa and the world. 

This is the span of his work — (applause) — and it is the span of his vision of what an individual can do to move forward our nation and the world. 

And I will tell you: Rev’s work inspired me from a young age to understand the power of the coalition. 

So, I grew up in a neighborhood of hardworking folks — nurses and firefighters and construction workers and teachers — in Oakland and Berkeley, California.  I was raised by parents who met while they were protesting for civil rights in the 1960s and who would take me to those marches while I was in a stroller.  At the earliest stages of my life, I recognized the power of standing in solidarity at a protest or a picket line. 

And later, I saw the power of Rev’s coalition when I was in law school.  So, when I was in law school, I was back in California after I left Howard, and I drove a Toyota Corolla.  (Laughter.)  It was a fancy car for me.  (Laughter.)  And I had a bumper sticker in the back window: “Jesse Jackson for President.”  (Applause.)

And so I would drive back and forth from Oakland, where I lived, to San Francisco, where I went to school.  And I would drive across the Bay Bridge, if anybody knows the Bay Area.  And I’ll tell you, I was so struck and impressed when the first time that I did that drive with that bumper sticker, the number of truck drivers and people in other cars who would honk their horn or throw a thumbs-up sign, people of every walk of life.  (Applause.)

And I was so struck by that coalition that I saw, as we were all commuting to and fro, who understood Rev’s vision: one in which all people can dream about their future with ambition and aspiration, no matter the color of their skin, the place of their birth, the God they worship, or the people they love. 

That has always been part of the strength and the brilliance of Rev’s work.  Those folks, I believe they were honking and throwing a thumbs-up in favor of fighting for freedom and for opportunity. 

Powered by his vision and the coalition that believed in it, Re- — Rev ran for president in 1984, and again in 1988, winning 13 primaries, from South Carolina to Alaska.  (Applause.)  Let us remember that. 

And like Shirley Chisholm 12 years before, Rev has widened the path for generations that would follow, including President Barack Obama — (applause) — and me as the first Black woman to serve as Vice President of the United States.  (Applause.)  I am clear about that.  I am clear about that. 

And even before I served as vice president, throughout my career, I often worked with Rev to do the work of — of — of taking his direction on how we should expand the coalition.  As District Attorney of San Francisco, I worked with him to bring together law enforcement in the community so we could save people and help people have their voice be present around the injustices that were occurring and also do what we should do to be smart in terms of how we achieve public safety. 

As Attorney General of California, I worked with him on consumer protection issues, and in particular, because I took on and sued the big banks of the United States during the foreclosure crisis, and Rev was right there with his leadership — (applause) — supporting homeowners of America in terms of protecting their right to the American Dream. 

And as a United States senator, I was proud to work with Rev as we did the work that we have an ongoing mission to do, which is to secure the right to vote for all people.  (Applause.) 

And then in — and then in 2020, we worked together with folks across our country to mobilize that same coalition to organize and to register voters.  And as a result, Joe Biden and I went to the White House.  (Applause.)

So more than 60 years after that first sit-in at that library in Greenville, Rev has remained tireless in the fight to expand voting rights, to encourage innovation and partnerships across the continent of Africa, and to secure economic justice for all Americans. 

So, we congratulate you, Rev, on your pivot.  (Laughs.)  (Applause.)  I got the memo.  (Laughs.) 

And as President Biden said today, Rev: You are a man of God, and you are a man of the people.  And we thank you for all that you are.  (Applause.)

And so, in the spirit of your ongoing work, Rev, I do believe that it is critically important that we who have been inspired by your leadership take on our responsibility to see clearly the moment we are now in.  And let us acknowledge that the fight is more important than ever.  (Applause.)  Because, Church, in this moment across our country, we are witnessing hard-fought, hard-won freedoms under full-on attack by extremist so-called leaders. 

And these extremists have an agenda — an agenda to divide us as a nation, an agenda to attack the importance of diversity and equity and inclusion and the unity of the Rainbow Coalition.  These extremists wrote legislation and brought litigation to the United States Supreme Court — the court of Thurgood — (applause) — in 2013 in Shelby v. Holder to destroy hard-fought, hard-won rights around the — the legitimate responsibility a government has to ensure that the people have unfettered access to the ballot. 

They laid the groundwork for the Dobbs decision last year, when the Court took away a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America.  Took the right of every woman to make decisions about her own body, not having the government tell her what she’s supposed to do.  (Applause.)

These extremists went back to the Supreme Court.  And last month, the Court cut off access to opportunity when they gutted affirmative action and student debt relief.  (Applause.) 

And these extremists won a case that allows businesses to discriminate against the American people.  State by state across our nation, these extremists banned books, in the year of our Lord 2023.  (Applause.)  They banned books and prevent the teaching of America’s full history.  (Applause.)  All the while, they refuse reasonable gun safety laws to keep our children safe.  (Applause.) 

Understand what’s happening.  Let us understand the moment we are in.  And we know, in these dark moments, history shines a light on our path. 

And so, in this moment, let us all understand the history and the significance of Rev’s work and his approach.  Just as Rev has shown, our ability to stand together is our strength.  Our ability to unify as many peoples is our strength.  And the heroes of this moment will be those who bring us together in coalition; those who know that one’s strength is not measured based on who you beat down, but who you lift up.  (Applause.)

So, let us stand together, united and strong, knowing as Rev has always understood: We refuse to throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves.  (Applause.) 

And as the great Coretta Scott King taught us: The fight for civil rights must be fought and won with the each and every generation.  And, alas, that is our work.  And our gains will not be permanent if we are not vigilant. 

And as we know from Romans Chapter 5, Verse 5, “Hope does not disappoint us.”  (Applause.) 

So, fueled by the love of our country, just as Rev has done his entire career, let us keep hope alive.  (Applause.)  Let us keep hope alive.  Let us march.  Let us vote.  Let us fight, knowing when we fight, we win!  (Applause.)

May God bless you, and may God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                       3:19 P.M. CDT


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