I saw this picture yesterday when I was on time.com, and I promptly saved it. It’s a powerful image of Jesse Jackson on Nov 4 in Grant Park in Chicago. He was watching the Obama acceptance speech. As I studied the picture, I couldn’t help but think, “What’s going on Jesse Jackson’s head?”
More than anything else, I see the release of the pent-up struggles for black civil rights. These are tears of joy.
But is there more?
Is Jesse remembering what could have been, had Martin Luther King not been shot that fateful day of April 4, 1968 with Jesse beside him?
Is Jesse wondering if he’s lived up to the example of his mentor, Martin Luther King?
Is Jesse thinking about how his legacy could be greater, had he not been such a domineering presence in civil rights work over the last 40 years, a presence that often created a backlash against black rights rather than advancing their agenda through patient and courageous love?
Is Jesse wishing that was him on stage, given his epithet he muttered about Barack in the not-so-distant past?
Along with the certain positive tears of joy on Jesse’s face, I couldn’t help but consider other emotions and thoughts he may have had on that night. Regrets, maybe. I feel conflicted about Jesse Jackson, and I wonder how deeply he’s conflicted within himself with himself.