Civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson talks with 7 Action News about his life and automotive missions

Posted at 4:05 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 19:44:39-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Reverend Jesse Jackson is back in the Motor City for his 22nd Global Automotive Summit. He talks with 7 Action News about a mission he started in the auto industry decades ago and about his life mission.

The Rainbow Push Organization hosted the event that discussed minority-owned businesses getting equity in the industry with dealerships, suppliers, and OEMs including in the future of electric vehicles.

Reverend Jackson worked in the 1970s to make sure former Detroit Lion Mel Farr got a dealership that grew into several for more than 20 years.

There are 18,000 car dealers in the U. S. today. Some 500 used to be black-owned but many of those went under during the 2008-09 recession.

John Graves with the Rainbow Push Automotive Project said, “we can not have that type of carnage that occurs on the heels of COVID-19.”

Reverend Jackson told us how African Americans have become leaders in so many other ways, that needs to include the auto industry.

“Amazing how the impact that music, art, and athletics have on changing the culture. We deserve it,” he says.

Reverend Jackson also talked about how he was hit hard with COVID in August even after being fully vaccinated with two shots.

“Rehab was my challenge, in particular with my Parkinson’s. So, for a month I could not walk or sit. I had to learn how to walk all over again. And for 3 weeks I could not talk at all. So I had to learn how to talk and walk again.”

He took a fall just days ago.

“At Howard University and I didn't use my walker as I should have. I reached for the door and it wasn't there. I fell.”

The COVID vaccination rate in Detroit is 48%.

Reverend Jackson tells us, “The vaccine works. Doctor told me, Jesse you would be dead if you didn't have the vaccine. Don't mess with this thing. You get measles shots, smallpox shots all the time. We need in the name of God, please get your vaccine now for your children for your family. Keep you from becoming, you don't want to be a germ spreader.”

He talks and walks slower. But he’s not done.

“I'm a servant who will never stop serving.”