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Rev. Jesse Jackson endorses Hillary Clinton, praises Sanders

The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorses Hillary Clinton Saturday at the Kids Off the Block Memorial on the Far South Side. Andy Grimm / Sun-Times

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday officially announced his support for Hillary Clinton for president, recounting his long relationship with Clinton while praising the more left-leaning agenda of her Democratic Party rival Bernie Sanders.

“The issues that matter to us, civil rights, social justice… we can trust her on that,” Jackson said as he stood at the Kids Off the Block memorial on the Far South Side flanked by children. “She has a track record on that.”

Clinton has enjoyed strong African-American support during the primaries, often defeating Sanders with heavy support from black voters. But Jackson had withheld endorsing either Democrat until about a week after Clinton had sewn up the delegates needed to win the party’s nomination.

Jackson said he’s sympathetic to such Sanders’ causes as raising the minimum wage and reining in the financial industry.

“We’ve been relating to both camps,” Jackson said. “The campaign is over, but Bernie’s crusade is not over. His crusade to hold banks accountable is not over. His crusade to raise wages to $15 an hour, that will not go away; to make education more accessible, that will not go away.”

Jackson said he chose the Kids Off The Block memorial — a covered wooden shelf lined with stone markers bearing the names of hundreds of teens and children killed in Chicago street violence — because of the creeping “despair” in poor communities. Jackson, who visited the site with Clinton before the Illinois primary in March, urged the presumptive Democratic nominee to make urban issues a prominent part of her agenda if elected.