His political ambitions eclipsed by newly elected Senator Barack Obama of Illinois at the 2004 Democratic Convention, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. went back to work.
I have given Congressman Jackson more than a few tickles here on the Blog - read by tens of people, but I am impressed by his work-ethic, intelligence, drive and good sense. If his Dad had half of his son's talents and good sense, he would be drawing a pension as America's First Black President. Bill Clinton would have remained Governor of Arkansas. Barack Obama would be doing real estate deals in Chicago.
Congressman Jackson gave the best speech of Illinois contingent represented at Denver. Congressman Jackson made a solid context driven case for Barack Obama, without the rhetorical garnish.
On the day President Johnson submitted the Voting Rights Act to Congress, he said, "At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom."
So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was at Appomattox. So it was in Selma, Alabama. Tonight, I would like to add: and so it shall be in Denver, Colorado, with the nomination of Barack Obama to be President of the United States.
What a remarkable thing it is that the man who came to this convention four years ago as the keynote speaker is returning this year as our party's nominee. But for those of us who've known Barack over his decade in public office in Illinois the yearning for change, the hunger for unity that he's tapped into across the country has a familiar ring.
I remember when Barack first decided to run for the United States Senate. He'd had a remarkable career in the state Senate, reaching across the aisle to put a tax cut into the pockets of working families, to expand health care for more children and parents and to take on the lobbyists who had so much influence in Springfield.
But despite this record, most in Springfield didn't take his candidacy all that seriously. The party establishment was skeptical of this young leader from the South Side. They didn't know what to make of a man like Barack, with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas and a funny name that few could pronounce. They didn't see how this former community organizer could possibly defeat candidates with more money, more name recognition and more backing from "all the right people."
. . . But here's what I also know. I know that while America may not be perfect, our union can always be perfected. I know what we can achieve when good people with strong convictions come together around a common purpose. And I know what a great leader can do to help us find common ground. America, we need such a leader today, a leader who can heal the wounds of the last eight years, a leader who knows that what unites us is greater than what divides us and that America is at its strongest when hard work is rewarded and all of our dreams are within reach.
Given Obama's inability to close the deal with America, John McCain's rising tide of confidence in his leadership among Americans, and Congressman Jackson's talents and abilities 2012 could be the Year of Jackson.