I’ve got this friend. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. His name is The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson and he and his wife are unwell, as I learned from a mutual friend this morning.
This has me thinking. About so very many things.
I suppose I am widely considered to be a “right-winger”—at least that is the most common explanation for Tinder women ghosting me. But more importantly, I am also a human being. I have several “strange bedfellow” friends. I often joke that I have more in common with militant leftists than I do militant conservatives. And the older I get, the more I realize that I am kind of not kidding. Alas, this is another story for another day.
My history with Reverend Jackson began when I was a very young man. I had a friend called Ron Burkle and another called Keith Lee, both of whom influenced me greatly and were friends and fans of The Rev, as he is called. As a young Reaganite, I paid little attention to this perceived folly, though I did love and respect my friends. A seed was planted.
I thought he was a joke.
I had no understanding of his role in the civil rights movement. Nor, really of the civil rights movement itself.
Fast forward to just over a year ago. Our mutual friend Dr. Juliannne Malveaux roped me into going to Chicago. “I want you to know The Rev,” she said on a phone call. “Oh?” I replied. “Yes,” she said, “just come to Chicago…”
When Dr. Malveaux tells you to do something, you do it. So I went to Chicago. And I ended up locking eyes, very privately thanks to Julianne, with The Man himself. And it was…what was it? Amazing? Yes. Amazing. He took my hand firmly. He looked me deep in the eye. I knew that he was struggling with Parkinson’s disease and literally had no idea who on earth I was… but still. He knew me. It was absolutely wonderful. Those eyes…those eyes that see you so very clearly.
If you have never experienced what I did—looking into the eyes of The Rev—you have missed much. Those eyes are filled with love. True love.
As The Rev and his wife struggle with Covid, pray, and pray hard. And reflect on the true greatness of this man, perhaps the most underestimated one in our history. Our Reverend, Jesse Louis Jackson. Be well, my friend.