- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

A contingent of black business leaders and clergy will march today on the Chicago headquarters of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to protest what they call Mr. Jackson's "self-anointment" as a black leader.
"Jesse Jackson has passed himself off as a leader of African Americans," said the Rev. Lance Davis, a Chicago-area minister who has led three other protests against Mr. Jackson in the past month.
"Mr. Jackson is not a leader, and he is not a role model, yet he has been represented as one by the media and by himself and his supporters."
The protesters, a loosely knit group of about 300 who call themselves Voices of Morality, are also asking businesses and corporations to ignore Mr. Jackson, who has forced major companies to adopt expensive diversity programs under the threat of boycott.
Mr. Jackson countered yesterday that his opposition's motive is not morals or business but politics, noting that several of the protesters are defeated candidates.
"This is politically motivated, and a continuation of the primaries and general election," Mr. Jackson said. "And now that the state races are over, there are city races coming up, and our opposition continues. That is what this is about."
He said the group was composed of many of the same people who also fought the candidacy of the Rev. James Meeks, a Rainbow/PUSH officer who defeated incumbent Democratic state Sen. William Shaw.
"It is not just me that they are against," Mr. Jackson said. "In some sense, this is an aftershock of that."
The protesters maintain it is all about Mr. Jackson and his methods for seeking integration in corporate America, although they are also strident in their opposition to several of his colleagues who are involved in politics.
Last Saturday, a group of 25 protesters stood outside a Chicago beer distributorship owned and operated by Mr. Jackson's sons, Yusef and Jonathan.
The two received the beer distributorship after their father led protests against Anheuser-Busch in which he said the company had failed to secure enough minority participation in its operations.
Critics have charged that PUSH contributors and close associates of Mr. Jackson are often beneficiaries of his corporate campaigns.
"And understand this: he can't boycott us," said Hal Baskin, a failed alderman candidate who is running again in February. "And he can't buy us off."
Through the years, the bulk of Mr. Jackson's detractors have been white, conservative or both.
This group of foes is black, Democratic and includes several former Jackson acolytes.
"We are getting more and more people to stand up," said Cheryl Cornelius, who is a part-time pastor at Mr. Davis' church. She grew up following Mr. Jackson, marching for him and taking part in activities at Operation Breadbasket, Mr. Jackson's first group in Chicago.
"More and more people here in Chicago are seeing how Reverend Jackson has taken advantage of his title as so-called leader of the African-American community to take advantage of companies in order to support his family," Mrs. Cornelius said. "He has lost touch with the common person."
In November, Mr. Davis led a group of 70 protesters who attended Mr. Jackson's traditional Saturday morning service. An ensuing fracas led to police being called and to two different versions of what happened.
Mr. Davis said that Rainbow/PUSH staffers began to push and shove members of his group.
Mr. Jackson said his life was threatened by some of the protesters. "They came to one of our meetings and began to hurl obscenities and threats and they were escorted out by police," he said.
The Rev. Anthony Williams, pastor of St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, said he is determined to let the world know Mr. Jackson "does not speak for us."
"White America and the government is under the impression that when they say something bad about [Mr. Jackson], it's a racial thing," said Mr. Williams, who lost to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in the March Democratic primary this year.
"But we have done some very serious self-examination, and when we look at this man and what he has done, the community has benefited very little."

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