Special to The Truth
On July 19, 2021, French president Emmanuel Macron awarded U.S. civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson the Legion d’Honneur, one of France’s highest honors, in recognition of what he called “a long walk towards emancipation and justice.”
A political activist, minister, and former shadow U.S. senator for the District of Columbia representing the Democratic party, Jackson has been involved in civil rights activism since the 1960s, when he worked alongside Martin Luther King.
Jackson, 79, was appointed commander of the Legion d’Honneur, one of the highest ranks in the distinction.
“From your earliest years, you were hungry for knowledge and justice, and you are a special friend of France, a brother for us,” Macron said in a solemn address at the Elysee palace.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Legion of Honour recognition from the Republic of France at the invitation of President Macron,” said Jackson. “He has been very gracious to me and my family during our visit. I will remember this event as an affirmation of my struggle for civil and human rights throughout the world. I accept the manifestation of the this honor with great humility, while acknowledging the spirit of President Macron to make France and the world a better place for all mankind.”
Toledoans are familiar with Jackson’s commitment to the cause of knowledge and justice.
Jackson made an appearance in Toledo in January 2019 at The Truth Art Gallery that was well attended by Toledo residents. The purpose of his visit was to investigate complaints of racism at the Toledo General Motors plant – among those issues were instances of nooses hung in various locations within the plant.
Prior to that visit, GM management had not done much to put an end to such occurrences, a number of employees felt. After Jackson’s visit, GM offered a reward of $25,000 to anyone who would report those performing such acts – subsequently the acts stopped.
However, after his visit, there was a similar issue at the Toledo Jeep plant. A Black female employee who had attended the meeting at The Truth, contacted Jackson about the problem who, in turn, called Paul Hubbard. Hubbard made contact with Ron Thompson, a Chrysler board member, who worked within Chrysler to resolve the issue.
In attendance at the ceremony were: Christiane Taubira, former French Justice Minister; George Paul-Angevin, former French Education Minister; Elisabeth Morena, French Minister of Equality, Diversity & Equal Opportunities, Brian Aggeler, U.S. Charge d’Affairs to France; Momodou M. Jallow, Sweden’s member of Parliament; Lord Simon Woolley, British House of Lords; Diane Abbott, British member of Parliament; Ambassador Jean Paul Carteron, president of Crans Montana Forum; Bertin Mampaka, Belgium senator and former mayor of Brussels; Victorin Lurel, French member of Parliament; Dionandrea Shorts and Florence Radovic, both of the U.S. Embassy in France and Sambady Ntita Badibanga, former prime minister of the Congo.