From July 18th to 22th, 2015, the Reverend Jesse Jackson was in Guadeloupe for the first time. The former candidate for the primaries of the presidential election in the United States responded Brother Jimmy’s invitation sent out six years earlier during the Black Caucus 2009 where was the host of the program B.World Connection. The culmination of the civil rights activist’s stay was his visit of the Memorial ACTe in Pointe-à-Pitre.
To the sound of the drum-ka, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, his son and a delegation, were received at the airport Pôle Caraïbe by hundreds of inhabitants of Guadeloupe. A very busy schedule had been prepared for this journey initiated by B.World Connection in collaboration with the Regional Council of Guadeloupe.
Indeed, just after his arrival (on Sunday, July 19th), Jesse Jackson went to the Memorial ACTe. Very touched by the visit of this new place dedicated to slavery, he said he had never seen such a similar thing in the world. “This is the most comprehensive museum dedicated to slavery, I saw the one of Liverpool and several in North America, this museum is phenomenal for its wealth”, he declared.
Then, he was applauded by the crowd, when he made a speech on the square of the building about black people dignity, about the duty to know the history of slavery in order to not repeat this “evil”, about the need to unite and continue the fight to obtain a “part in the capital and industry.” “Guadeloupeans owe France nothing because they made rich France through the system of slavery”, according to Jesse Jackson.
On Monday, July 20th, the civil rights activist made a return trip to Martinique to lay a wreath and medidate at the grave of the poet Aimé Césaire, one of the fathers of Negritude, then to meet the elected representatives of the island. He saw there the former French Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira (native of Guiana) who made an official visit to Fort-de-France.
On Tuesday, July 21st, Jesse Jackson, tireless in spite of his 73 years, was keen to go to sites marked by the slave trade, including “The Steps of the Slaves” (Les Marches des Esclaves) in the town of Petit-Canal, a route taken by thousands of African captives when they got off the slave ships to reach the plantations. In the afternoon, the charismatic leader met Guadeloupean elected representatives in the hemicycle of the Regional Council in Basse-Terre and gave a lecture on Guadeloupean heroes who are Delgrès, Ignace and Solitude, as well as on Black peoples fights for equality.
On Wednesday, July 22nd, the congress hall in Memorial ACTe was packed for this meeting with Guadeloupean young people. In this Caribbean Center for Expressions and Memory of the Slave trade and Slavery, Jesse Jackson delivered a message of peace, reconciliation and integration into society to play an economic role.