The Rev. Jesse Jackson invoked the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he challenged the U.S. media to do a better job covering the movement for social justice.
"He was idolized by the white media when he absolved the blows. When whites bombed his home in Montgomery and he told blacks not to shoot back, (the media) said, ‘This is our guy.’
"When dogs bit and horses kicked and he said, ‘Don’t fight back,’ they said, ‘This is the type of leader we’ve been looking for.’ But when he challenged the assumption of white male supremacy, its institutions and war policy, the government then began to attack him."
Jackson said "[King] brings us to this point today, 40 years later, to define the great issues of our time — the broken promises, the new schemes of denials, the impact of a media that freezes out democracy, the media that looks at the world through a key hole and not the door.”
"I'm concerned that the media has the capacity to play a bigger role to make America better. And that's why this idea of media concentration is a bad proposition," He said. "We must fight to open up airwaves for all the people."
He told the assembled crowd to "keep fighting back" against a media system that turns it's back on the disenfranchised. He urged people to push for more access to media and independent news media in their communities "no matter the difficulty or cost."
Jackson decried what he called a "mass media lock out" of people of color. "So you go to CNN and you see huge picture of Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn and Anderson Cooper and Larry [King] and Nancy Graves and Entertainment Tonight. And you go over and you see O'Reilly and all of that at. All day, all night, all white."
"Because hosts have determined context and subjects, content, guests, bookers, promoters. And so we demand the right to open up access to media."
Jackson urged people to tell the story of racial injustice in mainstream media, "because it's not right and it's not fair."
Jackson concluded his speech by calling on activists to confront the lack of mainstream media reporting on social justice issues. "Challenge the darkness," Jackson said. "Light your match and let it glow."