Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. speaking from a lectern

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Civil rights activist and Rainbow PUSH Coalition President Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. urged voter registration and participation—particularly among the student population—during a Jan. 25 speech on Northeastern Illinois University’s Main Campus. Jackson’s speech came as the state’s public universities approach their eighth month without an appropriation.

“Those of you who are not registered to vote have nothing to say,” Jackson said to the standing-room-only audience that filled Alumni Hall.

Jackson’s words echoed those of Northeastern Provost Richard Helldobler, who in welcoming Jackson also challenged the crowd to start contacting their legislative representatives in Springfield about the importance of higher education.

“It is mission critical for us to make the state understand that it must provide an appropriation that funds a quality—and an affordable—public higher education,” he said. “When you finish talking to them, end every sentence with three of the most powerful words in America: ‘And I vote.’”

After speaking, Jackson took questions and invited to the stage anyone who was an unregistered voter. About a dozen people accepted and were then led out to a voter registration table set up outside Alumni Hall.

“It’s time to rally,” Jackson said. “Time to register. And time to march.”

See the video of the full speech below.