Lakeshore Report

Rev. Jesse Jackson Marks Civil Rights Act in Merrillville

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By: Hilary Powell

June 27, 2014 — This week, congressional leaders championed the 50th anniversary of the Civil rights Act by celebrating the bi-partisan efforts lawmakers used to pass the bill in 1964.

But while congressional leaders celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy on Tuesday with a posthumous award for the nonviolent leader, one of King’s civil rights colleagues marked the June 19th anniversary in the region.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. was in Merrillville, Ind. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race.

Jackson recently spoke at a gathering for the Indiana Consortium of State and Local Human Rights Agencies.

He says the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind. — organized in part by former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher — was a turning point for equality following the bill.

“That seemed to be at that time beyond anybody’s imagination,” Jackson says, “but, much of the idea came from Mayor Richard Hatcher. No one at that point had the capacity to reach out to Amiri Baraka in Newark, and reach out to Karenga in LA, and reach out to Andy Young in Atlanta. All these officials came to Gary because of Mayor Hatcher.”

Next week, “Lakeshore Report” will explore how Gary’s historic gathering galvanized a new wave of political leaders and what impact the civil rights legislation has made in the region over the past half century.


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