Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, calling for a renewal of the economic boycotts and massive protest marches that marked the movement of the 1960s, said today that blacks are playing too much attention to President Carter in their bid to protect and increase social and economic gains.
"Presently, we are suffering from tunnel vision," Jackson told several thousand delegates to the opening sessiion of the eight annual convention of Operation PUSH, of which he is president.
"We have developed Carter-mania and Carter-phobia. We have allowed the media to program us into one house and one man with their many cameras. There is too much focus on the White House to the exclusion of the other houses, the Supreme Court, the Congress, state legislatures and the media itself," Jackson told the applauding audience.
Jackson one of a procession of leaders from varied sectors of public and private life who have participated in Carter's "domestic summit" at Camp David, said he did not intend his comments to be interpreted as "a call for any easing of pressure on the White House."
The energy, economic and social problems facing the nation -- three aspects of what Jackson called the civilizational crisis" -- are beyond the control of any president, Jackson said.
Because of that, it is pointless for blacks to spend their time "waiting for the president to take the initative and expand options for the black, the brown and the poor," he said.
"Freedom does not come from the big house, the statehouse or the White House. It comes from your house and my house," Jackson said.
Jackson said blacks and other minorities must revive selective economic boycotts and "must move back to the streets with massive marches, prayer vigils and dramatic direct action."
Continuing his address, Jackson said "They've tried to con us over the last several years into feeling the era of massive demonstrations is over.
"So we stopped marching, and stopped making progress. Then the women began to march and they started making progress. The gays and the straights started marching and they began making progress. I tell you, there is a greater relationship between pressure and progress than between presidents and progress."
That commit, about halfway through the speech, brought cheers from the crowd.
Specifically, Jackson said that Operation PUSH is targeting three industries, food, liquor and automobile manufacturers, for negotiations.
"We must use our $115 billion disposable income to insure our jobs, job promotions and economic development," he said.
In other comments today Jackson said that the United States will have to change its "blind and arrogant" policies in the Middle East to recognize "the just demands of the dispossessed Palestinian people."
"Now, the highest national interest is calling for a thorough reassessment of that policy. There will be no lasting peace in the Middle East until a homeland for the Palestinian people is given the same weight of importance as our concerns for the sovereignty of the national territory of the Lebanese people and a homeland for the Jews. . ."