Rev. Jesse Jackson (187142)
Credit: Rev. Jesse Jackson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is headed to the city for the 22nd annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, Feb. 20 through Feb. 22, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. This year’s theme is 400 Years Later: Closing the Wealth Gap, Expanding Opportunity. This year’s event will feature sessions on closing the racial wealth gap, advancing consumer protection and the state of telecom and evolution of digital currencies.

Jackson said the event will also highlight tech industries and how they are expanding wealth opportunities; supplier diversity opportunities; and diversity and inclusion on corporate boards and in C-suites.

“We’re looking to expand upon the progress and discuss ways to increase opportunities for minorities and women,” said Rev. Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and organizer of the Wall Street Project. “After 400 years, there is still much more work to be done in terms of our freedom, equity, diversity and inclusion, particularly in today’s political climate if we want to close the wealth gap and expand opportunity.”

The Wall Street Project’s Economic Summit will bring entrepreneurs, corporate executives and the nation’s leading policymakers together to increase business and employment opportunities for African-Americans, women and all people of color.

“History is an unbroken continuity that cannot be denied. Americans should not hide from the past nor engage in an extended exercise of rehashing 400 tragic years. However, we do need to continue to push to close the wealth gap and expand opportunities for African-Americans,” said Jackson. “This year’s Summit plans to address where and what African-Americans should and can do since setting foot 400 years ago on U.S. soil.”

Battling against racism on the job, Jackson paid a visit last month to the GM Powertrain plant in Toledo, Ohio, after graffiti with racist remarks and threatening messages was found at the plant. Images such as nooses, swastikas, white-only signs, ethnic slurs and offensive or derogatory comments were reported. An investigation revealed that the plant had a culture of racial harassment and discrimination.

Black employees at the plant filed a lawsuit stating that GM didn’t do enough to stop the racial harassment. Jackson suggested GM place cameras inside the plant.

“The people are saying they want protection. They are not getting it,” he said. “They want to find out the culprits and they are not getting that. Cowards will not show their faces. If you believe in swastikas, wear it on your chest.”

The Wall Street Summit will end with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund 22nd annual Wall Street Project Scholarship Gala, which will include such distinguished honorees as founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor-in-Chief

Emerita of Essence Magazine Susan L. Taylor and musical entertainment by singer/songwriter Lalah Hathaway.

Speakers at the summit include Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Dr. Darrick Hamilton, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women Janice Mathis, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, President and CEO of CVS Health Larry J. Merlo, John W. Rogers Jr. and CEO and CIO of Ariel Investments Congresswoman Maxine Waters.