With his latest book, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson returned to his Baptist preacher roots. And some 250 fans who queued to meet the reverend at a Black History Month event Thursday at the world’s largest Starbucks came as much for the man as for the message.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery, 646 N. Michigan Ave., hosted a book signing of “Keeping Hope Alive: Sermons and Speeches of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.,” purchasing more than 250 books that Jackson gave away to customers.
The 199-page $25 tome gathers some of Jackson’s best oratory from rallies, political conventions, churches and universities that were delivered in such diverse locations as Chicago, Washington, D.C., India and South Africa.
Some speeches like the ones given at the 1984 and 1988 Democratic Party Conventions — after two historic presidential campaigns — have been published before. Others mark more recent occasions like 2013’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Jackson, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was in good spirits as he and book editor, the Rev. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, chatted and took photos for two hours.
Michigan native Nick Gonring waited patiently for 40 minutes to be first in line. “I am humbled to meet Rev. Jackson,” he said, echoing much of the multicultural, intergenerational crowd.
Kim, associate professor of theology at the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., said it took 10 years to edit the 2019 collection. “He’s so eloquent. It’s hard to put an oral speech in writing and get the same effect, but I think I was able to bring it alive,” she said. “And while many of the speeches span decades, his conclusion is a very moving reflection of how he looks back on his work and his life. That alone makes the book worthwhile.”
In the epilogue, Jackson writes: “After all these years, what remains for me, is God is a source of mystery and wonder. Scripture holds up. The righteous are not forsaken. We’ve come a long way since slavery. But we’re not finished yet. Running for freedom is a long-distance race.”