Who Will Be The New
Jesse Jackson?

Rev. Jesse Jackson’s words last week that he wanted to cut Obama’s nuts off was a source of outrage for many blacks across the nation. He has apologized. Obama has accepted. Personally, that was good enough for me. I think it’s time to move on this week to more serious issues such as the economy, gas prices, the war in Iraq, global warming. But rapper Nas just wouldn’t let me. He told MTV that Jesse was finished.

“I think Jesse Jackson, he’s the biggest player hater,” Nas said. “His time is up. All you old …, time is up. We heard your voice, we saw your marching, and we heard your sermons. We don’t wanna hear that … no more. It’s a new day. It’s a new voice. I’m here now. We don’t need Jesse; I’m here. I got this. We got Barack, we got David Banners and Young Jeezy’s. We’re the voice now. It’s no more Jesse. Sorry. Goodbye. You ain’t helping nobody in the ‘hood. That’s the bottom line. Goodbye, Jesse. Bye!”

Now this comes on the heels of rapper Lil Wayne diss of Rev. Al Sharpton. On the track “Misunderstood,” Wayne spits: “You see, you are no MLK/ You are no Jesse Jackson/ You are nobody to me/ You’re just another Don King with a perm/ Just a little more political/ And that just means you a little more un-human/ Than us humans/ And now let me be human by saying/ F**k Al Sharpton and anyone like him.” Rappers have the right to their personal opinion just as anyone else does.

But, I’m never going to confuse Nas or Lil Wayne with Chuck D of Public enemy, Mos Def , KRS One, or Sister Souljah. We now have gangsta rappers trying to wrestle away Black leadership and some of them are putting themselves on the level of Obama.

I cant quit laughing. Who on earth would actually follow these malt liquor drinking, misogynistic, drug using, gang banging idiots? Nas and Lil Wayne are helping people in the hood? I believe the last time I heard Lil Wayne’s music it was blasting out of some gang member’s car as they rode though South Central L.A. and did a drive by shooting. Seriously, I do believe Jesse’s time has come and gone, he’s lost to much credibility to be effective anymore. But should we and are we ready to dump Jesse’s outdated vision for the more clear advancing vision of Nas? Excuse me while I laugh some more.

Sharpton on the other hand has emerged as the heir to King’s movement and is seen as the premier civil rights leader in the nation. Now, there are some who may disagree and don’t care for Sharpton and his tactics, but the reality of the situation is he led and organized the Jena 6 movement. The Sean Bell movement was spearheaded by Sharpton as well the fight for justice in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo, and the torture of Abner Louima by the N.Y.P.D.

When Black folks are in trouble across the nation and the circumstances are shady when I turn on CNN, I’m looking for Rev. Al and his bullhorn, not Nas, Lil Wayne, David Banner, or Young Jeezy.

Which brings me to my question. Now that Jesse has truly become irrelevant, and there are so many that don’t want to follow Sharpton, NAACP, SCLC, and the older model of civil rights leaders and groups, which young leader is going to emerge and step up to the plate of advocacy? Is the hip hop nation ready or even prepared to lead a movement for justice? Are you willing to follow Nas David Banner, Young Jeezy and other gangsta rappers and let them lead you and be your voice?

What do you think?

Najee Ali is Executive Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion. He was selected by Wave Newspapers and Our Weekly Newspaper as one of the 25 most influential black leaders in Los Angeles. More information is available at: www.islamichope.org.

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July 13th, 2008 at 11:43 pm Hope says:

No mention of Min. Louis Farrakahn. Hmmmm… has he done nothing at all through the years?? I think you are excluding someone who called the Million Man March and the Millions More Movement. His message has been for us to clean ourselves up whatever your religion is as a people. Oh well. I guess you think he has had less impact then the gangsta rappers since he wasnt mentioned.

July 14th, 2008 at 12:04 am Red Razor says:


July 14th, 2008 at 12:04 am Najee Ali says:

Im not a member of the Nation of Islam and never have been but I respect the work of Min Farrakhan. No doubt under his leadership they have helped Blacks folks across the nation ! BUT.. Im not sure you understood the context of my blog?? I was simply dealing with gangsta rappers who assume that they just because they have a microphone and that makes them a Black leader..If Im wrong or my writing wasnt clear. I know im going to get checked on this blog very soon..lol

July 14th, 2008 at 12:20 am Red Razor says:

The day I follow David Banner is the day cats chase dogs and pigs fly.

July 14th, 2008 at 1:11 am SweetSis says:

Punching in late on my first comment duties.

July 14th, 2008 at 1:34 am Tory says:

There are individuals within the Hip- Hop community that can carry the torch, if our older and often selfish black leaders would just pass it on! However many of the individuals who verbally attack the Jessie’s and Al’s, are to busy prostituting themselves for material gain, to even learn the ropes!
Our elders come from a different era and should be respected for their attributes, struggles, and pains. This generation is not a Hip-Hop generation they are walking advertisements for million dollar companies, self absorbed, cultural illiterate, and lovers of ignorance.

I would follow the Krs-one’s, Dead Prez’s, Common’s and Chuck D’s, because they are authentic individuals who actually know the richness of their HISTORY!

I wouldn’t follow Lil’ Wayne around the corner! Does he have a speech problem?

You are being a little ruff on Nas!

July 14th, 2008 at 2:20 am Chatty Cathy says:

i don’t think of rev al that way, i guess i see him as more ofa ajoke, but seeing all he does all together makes me see if differently. i just remmeber him in the jumpsuits and long perm. yuck.

July 14th, 2008 at 4:43 am Binta Rohan says:

@ Chatty, I hear you girl, but Sharpton has come a long long way from the jumpsuit days. He has become a true leader in my opinion. But I do admit it was an unconventional root so I know its hard to shake that old image of him.

July 14th, 2008 at 6:51 am Hank Wilfong says:

I think you’re right on point, Najee. Keep the truth out there.


July 14th, 2008 at 9:13 am lolalove says:

I like jeezy i think he has a message - have you ever listened?

July 14th, 2008 at 11:05 am Lottie Markus says:

I think this generation does have something to say, but maybe the way they say it isn’t appropriate to us - our job as this generation is to teach them the right way, not rag on them for not being like the others

July 14th, 2008 at 11:28 am Destah Owens says:

In the words of the immortal Whitney Houston…”Hell to the NAW!” Nas was amusing and even on point when he said Kobe was the ultimate hater for putting Shaq on blast, but those are two rich ball players that have shown no real history of political activism. Nas’ suggestion that he’s “got this” doesn’t even sound real to me. Am I watching a Dave Chappelle skit or something? Until a young Muhammad Ali or a young Jim Brown emerges, I’m not moved to listen to, let alone follow any athlete on a social issue. (It would’ve been so so nice if Michael Jordan started to exert some influence because he simultaneously had Madison Avenue and the brothas on the Ave looking at him like the Messiah. But the best he could muster was “Republicans buy sneakers too….”).
Najee, you are soooo right on here as including Young Jeezy, Nas, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’Mama, Lil’ Scrappy, or for that matter Little Debbie in the same sentence with Chuck D./Sista Soulja/KRS-One/Mos Def is ridiculous (see Soulja Boy compared to Jay-Z,LeBron compared to DeShawn Stevenson, Coke vs. Pepsi Clear…you get the point). Chuck, KRS, Mos and Sista have all made it quite clear that while commercial success would be nice, putting out positive messages on relevant social issues is much more important. To their credit and as a testament to their transcendent talent, they still put out hot records (oops..i mean MP3’s these days) and sell. We are a people with a great oral tradition of passing down history and knowledge. Perhaps grandparents and parents need to take a second stab at making sure that the youth know the difference between MLK, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party vs. some grill-wearin’ caricature spouting rhetoric about smokin’ fools, flossin’ tight whips, gettin’ money and being intoxicated.

July 14th, 2008 at 11:35 am superjonsey1 says:

Nas is talking out of the side of his neck. I wouldn’t allow him to lead me anywhere.

July 14th, 2008 at 11:45 am higha love says:

@destah you are sooo right my thoughts exactly !

July 14th, 2008 at 12:46 pm teradise says:

YIKES! toughy, but Rev. Al and Jesse J.are not two pioneers that I have ever taken seriously or had a great deal of humbled respect for at all…just how I feel.

July 14th, 2008 at 12:48 pm teradise says:

Destah, your Whitney houston quote had me rolling! LOL

July 14th, 2008 at 12:54 pm thelma says:

I had not heard about this by why am I noooot surprised!

July 14th, 2008 at 1:02 pm heatmizer says:

Nas has really been disappointing me later. Just let the music speak for itself and kill the noise

July 14th, 2008 at 1:08 pm culturepop says:

@Lottie I hear you I do feel that we should teach the young folks and give them a chance. My issue is the respect factor. You gotta be able to be humble and give props to the generation that took the beatings, the lynchings, the cant eat at the lunch counter - the jim crow and all that other stuff so that they dont’ have to. where is their respect? I don’t see it.

July 14th, 2008 at 1:59 pm buttabrown says:

I never have liked the idea that we have to have a ‘leader’ - I mean, who’s the white leader? We need people to be speaking and acting right. The people that are elected or that speak about our cause in a positive way that gets results. There is no ‘new jesse jackson’ in my opinion! there is just people that are fighters to help the oppressed and those that may not be able to speak for themselves

July 14th, 2008 at 3:42 pm west coast shortee says:

white world sees us disrespecting our elders and leaders. not a good look.

July 14th, 2008 at 4:42 pm Tina says:

That is a tough question at this point I don’t know about anyone. How about about you?

July 14th, 2008 at 6:26 pm Kettle Blk says:

Let’s put it all to bed. I just wish we did have someone that was for us and by us

July 14th, 2008 at 8:07 pm Cheetah says:

Al Sharpton is all we got. Painful

July 14th, 2008 at 8:41 pm Najee Ali says:

@lolalove Im not into his music I heard a little bit of it though @Destah I co-sign with You, You said it all!

July 14th, 2008 at 10:31 pm chica22 says:

The new Jesse Jackson hopefully is not on the horizon. I’m over these so-called leaders who deal in fear all the time. I understand we have to react to the crap thrown at us and yes we should be up in arms about certain issues - like that awful New Yorker cover or TechNigga etc. But ALSO and even more importantly, we must BUILD our own movements and programs that happen independently of always REACTING. I think thats what Jackson and Sharpton to some degree are all about - REACTING. Its going to take new leadership that can balance reacting and TRUE building to lead the modern black community in my book.

July 15th, 2008 at 12:21 am Jaime Sez says:

Might I venture that the answer to the question of this blog is Najee Ali?

July 15th, 2008 at 1:11 am kamalp says:

Ain’t nobody with a brain following no rapper. Jeezy? Nah main.

July 15th, 2008 at 7:10 am Coretta Scott Queen says:

My prayer is that one day a Barack-like person comes along who will galvanize the hip hop community to use their incredible energy and creativity toward things that truly matter. From some of the comments my guess is that we are a long way off.

July 15th, 2008 at 7:10 am Coretta Scott Queen says:

Come to think of it Barack wasnt even on the scenes five years ago so maybe someone will emerge soon, it is possible.

July 15th, 2008 at 11:07 am Najee Ali says:

@Jaime I co-sign with Chica,Im not interested in leading anybody anywhere. If i see a problem i speak out and try to help if needed.I want to be me lol

July 15th, 2008 at 7:11 pm ratty says:

Amen Destah, Coretta and Cheetah.

July 15th, 2008 at 7:11 pm ratty says:

Applause for Najee! Keep Shining!

July 16th, 2008 at 2:54 pm Najee Ali says:

@ratty..Thanks this is my first blog & a real labor of love.

July 16th, 2008 at 7:51 pm Yolanda Dawson says:

First of all, everyone is entitled to their personal opinions but, not eveyone should voice their opinions. There is great truth to the old adage “think before you speak” unlike Don Imus,Michael Richards, Hilary Clinton, now Jesse Jackson. Do you see where I’m going with this? Representation from college educated and university trained individuals is not enough but, we need people with integrity.

July 24th, 2008 at 1:01 pm Mark S. Allen says:

“Mark Allen is one of the best organizers of grassroots people in this country”
(U.S. Senator and U.S. Presidential Candidate Barack Obama;
U.S. Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr)

Volunteer Actvist/Organizer with Ceasefire

Recently included in the 2007-08 edition of Who’s Who In Black Chicago, and listed in Who’s Who Among African Americans. Mark S. Allen is a veteran community/political activist with over 32 years of public service on local, state, and national levels, including 7 years as a national staff member to the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Allen is a former talk show host on the legendary news/talk station WVON-AM. He is currently the Associate Editor of The South Street Journal Newspaper and Co-founder of The New Black Independent Media Coalition.