human rights & business (and a few other things)

Reverend Jesse Jackson at Middlesex University

Although this blog is about business and human rights I have decided to make an exception. Yesterday Reverend Jesse Jackson, legendary civil rights activist and runner for Presidential nomination in the United States in 1984 and 1988, came to my home institution, Middlesex University, and addressed our students and my fellow staff members. In his 1-hour talk, he covered some of the historical moments of the civil rights movement in the United States including the assassination of Martin Luther King, which he witnessed. Those times were about freedom, he said, but now it is about equality.

On his UK tour which marks the 50th anniversary of King’s “I have a Dream” speech (this gives me goose bumps every single time!) he visited Oxford, Cambridge and Middlesex Universities. He praised Middlesex for being a diverse university, as opposed to its more prestigious counterparts.

His speech was powerful, witty and truly inspiring. He even had the audience recite parts of the “I am. Somebody” poem, just like he did with the children in the famous Sesame Street episode of 1971. I admit this is something I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to do!

Over my 12+ years as a human rights scholar I have attended many events with great speakers talking about worthwhile causes, but I must say that Jesse Jackson’s performance, and the standing ovation he received, will be hard to match. You can watch an extract on YouTube.

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